black cherry, wild black cherry, rum
cherry, or mountain black cherry
Rosaceae – Rose family
A Deciduous tree.
Can grow up to 100' tall
The simple lanceolate leaves are 2,5" -
5.5" long. They have
serrated edges, with a shiny green top, and pale green
underside. The midrib of the underside of the leaf has small
rust colored hairs. The petioles are usually ¾ to 1¼ inches
long and bear two glands near the base of the leaf.
For the first 10 or so years of its life,
the bark of the black cherry resembles that of the birch
species, and is thin and striped, with white banding and eyes.
As the black cherry matures, it can easily be identified in a
forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has
the appearance of very thick, burnt potato chips (an easy way
to remember this is Burnt Potato Chips = Black Cherry).
The subterranean roots are an excellent source
of useful medicine.
The flowers are small 1/4" – 1/2" in diameter, with five
white petals and about 20 stamens. There are about 40
fragrant flowers on each raceme.
The fruit is a drupe, about 1/2" in
diameter, green to red at first, and then ripening to black;
it is usually astringent and bitter when eaten fresh, but
also somewhat sweet. The fruit hangs in clusters below the
Riversides, wet areas, dry areas, forest
edges, along railroads, dry open woodlands, pine barrens, and
Fruit, Bark, Roots
Wild Food Uses:
The fruit can be eaten fresh, or made into
jams, preserves, juice. Historically the fruit was dried and used
throughout the year. Native Americans pounded the entire berry,
including the pit, and used them throughout the year. It was a
staple for many native tribes. It is very good added to pemmican.
You can also pour pureed, or pounded fruit, onto cookie sheets and
dry in a sunny location to make chokecherry leather. As the fruit
dries, the astringent qualities subside, making it much more
The following text is
meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or
treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other
qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of
any illness or injury.
The roots and bark have been used as an astringent, an appetite
stimulant (bitter), a blood tonic, and a sedative. Modern
herbalists use chokecherry to relieve chest congestion and lung
disorders. It is also a very effective expectorant. The roots of
the plant have more medicinal qualities than the inner bark of the
limbs and trunk. It is also said that an infusion of the bark can
be used to soothe pink eye.