This species is closely related to Prunus serotina, but it has larger edible fruits[
Prunus capollin Zucc.
Prunus capuli Cav. ex Spreng.
Prunus serotina salicifolia (Kunth) Koehne
Common Name: Capulin Cherry
Capulin cherry is a deciduous tree usually growing less than 15 metres tall, but occasionally taller. The bole is usually short and up to 90cm in diameter.
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, dye and source of wood. The plant is often cultivated for its edible fruit in Mesoamerica.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves, seed and bark, and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Southern N. America - Mexico to S. America - Peru.
Pine or mixed forest in mountainous areas of Guatemala, at elevations of 1,500 - 3,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
A plant of higher elevations in tropical areas, it can also be grown in the subtropics and temperate zones[
]. Grows best in areas with a well-distributed, medium rainfall[
]. The trees have a very low chilling requirement and are adapted to grow in warm winter areas where true cherries are unable to fruit[
]. Plants have tolerated temperatures down to about -22°c in Massachusetts, N. America[
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone[
]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much is present[
]. Plants are not exacting in their soil requirements, succeeding in poor soils and in clays[
]. Requires a sunny position[
A fast growing and vigorous species, it can fruit in its third year from seed[
]. Seedling trees usually take 6 - 8 years before they commence cropping[
There are some named varieties[
Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Thin skinned with a juicy sub-acid to sweet flesh but a slightly astringent aftertaste[
]. They can be eaten out of hand or used in preserves, pies etc[
]. The juice is often mixed with cornmeal to make a cake[
]. The fruit is about 17mm in diameter and contains one large seed[
]. The fruit is red or almost black, 1 cm. in diameter or often larger, with a sweet flavour[
Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[
A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[
Wood - hard, insect resistant. Used for furniture, musical instruments etc, It is also a good fuel[
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cool stratification and is best sown as soon as it is ripe[
]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on until large enough to plant out.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, in a frame[
Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants, in a frame[
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