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Prunus serotina


Prunus serotina


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Black choke, choke, black cherry, wild cherry


Prunus serotina or Black choke is one of the largest cherry trees. It is valued for many uses including its fruit and hardwood used for furniture. The bark of P. serotina was used regularly by Native Americans as a remedy for various ailments including, but not limited to, coughs and bronchial ailments. It is important to note that the seed inside the fruit can be poisonous to both animals and humans.

The deciduous of P. serotina tree can grow upwards of 90 feet high and has alternate ovate dark green leaves. The branch span can be as wide as 35 feet. The bark of the tree is brownish-grey and is scaly. 

Origin / Habitat

P. serotina is a deciduous tree that is native to Canada, spreading down through the eastern part of the United States. It produces white flowers in June, which result in small, bittersweet fruit in August. The tree is very hardy in colder climates and has been found as far south as Texas.[1] The plant thrives in fertile, moisture rich soil.

Chemical Constituents

Cyanogenic glycosides (prunasin), Volatile oil, Coumarins, Gallitannins, Resin.[2],[3]

Plant Part Used

Bark and Fruit

Medicinal Uses


Cough suppressant





Most Frequently Reported Uses

Cough suppressant



Dosage Range 

Infusions are made with from 1-3g raw powdered bark in boiling water taken one to three times per day.

Most Common Dosage 

1g powdered bark infused in boiling water taken 2 times daily.

Standardization Dosage

No standardization known.



P. serotina is found today in many cough preparations in which it is marketed as an expectorant,[4] but there is limited scientific support for the other uses mentioned above. In one laboratory study, P. serotina was found to have anti-inflammatory properties due to its ability to reduce cyclic D1 expression.[5]


There are no clinical studies available to support the anecdotal use of this herb.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There is insufficient information available to determine potential interactions.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Generally considered safe when used as directed.

Not for long-term use.


Not to be used with pregnant or nursing women unless directed by a physician.

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1) Native American Herbs


  1. Culbreth MR. A Manual of Materia Medica and Pharmacology. Lea Brothers & CoPublishing; 1929.
  2. Power FB. On the Constituents of Wild Cherry Bark. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 1888;36:121-126.
  3. Buchalter L. Identification of monomeric and polymeric 5,7,3'4'-tetrahydroxyflavan-3,4-diol from tannin extract of wild cherry bark USP, Prunus serotina Erhart, family Rosaceae. J Pharm Sci. Oct 1969;58(10):1272-1273.
  4. CAS Information, FDA: Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS).
  5. Yamaguchi K. Anti-proliferative effect of horehound leaf and wild cherry bark extracts on human colorectal cancer cells. Oncol Rep. Jan 2006;15(1):275-281

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