Chokecherry?

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by Artemis12, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. Artemis12

    Artemis12 Active Member

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    I've never seen this on the coast but it's common in the Thompson-Nicola Valley (quite dry here). Usually I find it bordering fields on a southern exposure.
    It carries a LOT of fruit and the colour of the berries is kind of variable- bright red to almost black with a fine dusting of mildew on the darker (riper?) ones. Berries are quite firm and carry one stone.

    Can anyone identify it? The berries were picked yesterday and the photos taken today.
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The only native looking like that and growing there would be chokecherry.
     
  3. Artemis12

    Artemis12 Active Member

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    Thanks Ron.
    I've got another question: Edibility. I understand the seed is poisonous yet the berries themselves are not.
    Do you know if the berries have to be fully ripened before being consumed (raw) ?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    According to Facciola, Cornucopia II (1998, Kampong Publications, Vista)

    The astringent fruits are eaten raw, dried, or processed into jams, jellies, juice, syrup, wine, and pies...Nutritious kernels were added to pemmican
     
  5. Artemis12

    Artemis12 Active Member

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    Thats the first time I've ever read the kernels being referred to as nutritious although I've been reading that they were simply included when making pemmican. I've been wondering how to feasibly remove the seeds but I just found this: "Chokecherries have a pit in the center that contains a naturally occurring hydrocyanic acid (also called prussic acid, a weak acid smelling of almonds). The process of either boiling or drying will neutralize the acid to make the food safe to eat. Traditionally, chokecherries are preserved by sun-drying. When drying chokecherries, the whole fruit (pulp, skin and pit) is ground together. Patties are formed and set in the sun to dry; this process is dependent upon consecutive days of hot, windy weather."

    I guess I'll be sun-drying them- thanks!
     
  6. abgardeneer

    abgardeneer Active Member

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    I wouldn't count on the desirability of eating ground chokecherry pits - sounds hard on the teeth!

    More conventional ways of using chokecherries are to make jelly and pancake syrup, which involves boiling the whole berries, then straining though jelly-making funnels to remove the pits and skins. Ask any prairie old-timer how to do it.

    I should also add that the palatability of preserves made from chokecherries depends greatly on the sugar added! It also tends to be sort of an acquired taste - some people like it, some don't.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2008
  7. Artemis12

    Artemis12 Active Member

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    Hi abgardeneer!

    I guess I should have stated my real interest: herbal tea. A new acquaintance gave me a sample of her 'Hunter's Tea' which was really tasty...and I thought I could make my own tea from the stuff that grows wild around here ( it helped that she listed the particular ingredients :) )
    Anyways, I had been noticing this cherry type thing growing every where in these parts with the fruits completely untouched which is what sparked my interest.

    I've never tried making jelly yet but next year I will probably give it a go especially now that I've found great locations of abundant chokecherries as well as rose hips, Saskatoon berries, wild currants etc. Thanks! :)
     
  8. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Funnily enough. I was just going to post & ask for help with this plant & I saw this thread.

    Photo taken in Hazelton BC a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was prunus emarginata (Bitter cherry), but on reflection it looks a lot more like P. virginiana...or I could be wrong entirely...happened before.

    It was growing wild or naturalized as a large shrub in the area. I don't think P. viginiana would be native there, but neither should Hazelnuts - and there they are.

    TIA

    gb
     

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  9. abgardeneer

    abgardeneer Active Member

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  10. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    OK, that is all so.

    However, I have not seen Chokecherry natualized or native personally in "Coastal" BC -by that I mean the wet & getting wetter areas W of the Rockies. Artemis 12 noted that his was growing in the Thomson-Nicola region which is pretty dry "sagebrush" country. I am sure it's around here somewhere (Fraser Valley), but the cherries that I see are P. emaginata & various escapes.

    Hazelton is 54+ degrees north & in a much wetter, colder, snowier climate. The Corylus is an isolated population noted in the guides as a bit of an anomaly. It is one of the reasons I went to Hazelton. I did not see the plant in the photo in other areas I looked at between Prince George & Prince Rupert.

    Question remains...me not being real familiar with Chokecherry, & this plant growing in a location far from my normal haunts, is this photograph it?

    Sorry about the grammar.

    gb
     
  11. abgardeneer

    abgardeneer Active Member

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    It sure looks like it to me.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Facciola mentions the bark and twigs being used for tea. Native distribution includes coastal areas. Not abundant over here, but present sporadically. Similar P. padus is also cultivated, may seed out or persist, as near Stanwood, WA.
     
  13. Artemis12

    Artemis12 Active Member

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    choke cherry makes very good cherry syrup- yummy on ice creme! :D
     

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