BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION: Wild cherry is not generally seen in its mature stage at least in the southern region which I have been able to observe. It is a medium sized tree although it can become very tall, up to 50 or 60 feet, but it is not very large in circumference generally. The bark is a mottled coloration, generally darkish gray with specks of dull white interspersed. It sometimes will be seen to separate naturally from the trunk. The heartwood is dark burgundy colored and makes very fine furniture. It is the famous cherry used in furniture making. The leaves are deciduous, oval-oblong, acuminate, finely and unequally serrate, with incurved, short, and callous teeth, thickish, smooth, no hairs on the under side, shining above, 3 to 5 inches long, half as wide, and borne on petioles which are furnished with 1 or 2 pairs of reddish glands. The flowers are white, in long, erect, terminal racemes, with a small, solitary flower now and then in the axils of the leaves next to the raceme. Bracts inconspicuous. Calyx with sharp, shallow segments. The fruit is a globular drupe, about as large as a pea, of a purplish black color, edible, but having a bitter taste.
MEDICINAL PARTS USED: The bark of the limbs, trunk and root are all very useful and contain the same medicinal properties, although the root is always better. The medium size branches are the best size for harvesting the bark, although all sizes will be very useful because it is the inner bark which contains the medicinal properties. In scraping or peeling the bark the distinction between the bark and the woody portion of the tree will be quite evident and the whole of the peel can be put into tincture. The main thing is to make sure you are getting the inner bark which of course will be attached to the outer bark. There is no separation required however when putting the bark into the alcohol. Wild cherry is almost always used in the tincture form because heat evaporates its properties quickly although an infusion could be used as well if carefully prepared if the tincture is unavailable.
REFLECTIONS AND USES: Wild cherry is an herb which has been used for a very long time in western herbalism and is mostly noted for its use in respiratory problems, although this is by no means its only use. In fact the argument could be made that its use in digestive disorders is actually at least as important. It is of course the source of the famous wild cherry cough syrup. It is also noted in eclectic medicine for its use in heart conditions. It has a soothing and sedative effect on the nervous system. It is in this way that it has its influence on the heart. Palpitations from nervous conditions caused by any excessive irritation from fevers, coughs, irritation from the digestive system etc. It is not so much for heart conditions from structural conditions.
In digestive disorders it use is very noticeable. It causes the flow of gastric juices. This is very helpful in conditions of dyspepsia. I have combined it with Tag Alder, and Iris for many conditions of the digestive system with great success. The tag alder helps with the assimilation of nutrition and increases waste while the iris increases bile flow. Added with the wild cherry’s effect of increasing the flow of gastric juices it is very effective in many disorders, the most important being acid reflux. This combination has proved specific in this condition.
In respiratory affections wild cherry soothes the cough and at the same time gives tone and strength to the system. Therefore in respiratory formulas it is always a major factor. I have combined it with bugleweed in combination with other respiratory herbs such as horehound, mullein, etc with much success. Even alone it would make a very good syrup prepared carefully for soothing irritative coughs such as whooping cough etc. It combines well with sundew and bugleweed in this regard. All quieting for uncontrollable cough.
Externally, The bark can be placed in water for a few days in part sun and then used with advantage for an eye was in pink eye and other infections of the eye.
The dosage can be adjusted for the severity of the condition although because wild cherry is very safe, it can be used in larger doses if necessary without any fear. The starting point would be the 15 to 30 drops but in cough it could be frequently repeated and I would not hesitate to use the tincture in 60 drop doses in heavy cough. The decoction should be used in one to four ounces 4 or 5 times daily. The decoction is made by putting one ounce of bark to one pint of water.