Prunus serotina Ehrh.

Last updated: 28 Oct 2017

Scientific Name

Prunus serotina Ehrh.


Cerasus serotina (Ehrh.) Loisel., Padus serotina (Ehrh.) Borkh., Padus serotina (Ehrh.) J.Agardh., Prunus capuli Cav., Prunus serotina var. serotina. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Black cherry, rum cherry, wild black cherry [2]
Mexico Usabi [2].

Geographical Distributions

The genus Prunus mainly occurs in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere; some species originate in tropical highlands. [3]

Prunus serotina is native to Canada, spreading down through the eastern part of the United States. The tree is very hardy in colder climates and has been found as far south as Texas. [4]

Botanical Description

P. serotina is a member of the family Rosaceae [1]. P. seotina is a deciduous tree and is one of the largest cherry trees. The deciduous of P. serotina tree can grow upwards of 90 feet high [4].

The bark of the tree is brownish-grey and is scaly. [4]

The leaves is dark green and are alternate ovate. The branch span can be as wide as 35 feet. [4]

The flower is white in colour and usually produced in June. [4]

The fruit is small and bittersweet usually produced in August. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

Acetate fraction obtain from the methanol extract of the leaves of P. serotina has been reported to contain hyperoside, pruning and ursolic acid. [5]

Six glycosidic compounds that can be found in P. serotina are rutin, hyperoside, reynoutrin, guajiverin, avicularin and juglanin. While three common flavanols that can also be found in P. serotina are: quercetin, kaempferol and, isohamnetin. [6]

Plant Part Used

Bark and fruit. [7][8]

Traditional Use

P. serotina has had numerous uses common to many Native American tribes but was most frequently used to treat a variety of upper respiratory infections and throat disorders. Preparations for these treatments vary by tribe but are consistent in plant part used and application. However, the chemical makeup of the bark differs from spring to fall and therefore some of the differences in preparations may be due to these chemical changes. [4]

To treat tuberculosis or other ailments accompanied by cough, an infusion, decoction or cough syrup was made from the bark and used by the Cherokee [7], Iroquois [9], Mahuna [10], Malecite [11], Micmac [12], Ojibwa [13], Penobscot [14] and Rappahannock, tribes of North America [9]. In order to treat the common cold, an infusion or decoction made of the bark was used by Native American tribes including the Cherokee [7], Iroquois [9], Malecite [11], Micmac [12], Mohegan [8], Narrangset [8], Ojibwa [13], Rappahannock and Shinnecock [8].

The people of the Cherokee [9], Mohegan and Shinnecock [8] tribes use the fruit of P. serotina in an infusion (prepared by either boiling allowed to stand) as a gastrointestinal aide for treatment of general complaints. The Cherokee used the fruit in various preparations to treat bloody stool while the Mohegan’s used the fermented fruit to treat diarrhoea [9].

Preclinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

In one laboratory study, P. serotina was found to have anti-inflammatory properties due to its ability to reduce cyclic D1 expression. P. serotina contains anti-inflammatory phytochemicals such as NSAIDs and catechins that can down-regulate β-catenin/TCF signaling in colorectal cancer cells. [15]

Anti-cancer activity

Wild cherry extract was treated in SW480 cell line resulting in the suppression of β-catenin/T cell factor transcription, as assessed by TOP/FOP repoter contructs, suggesting that supposed β-catenin signalling by wild cherry extract leads to the reduction of cyclin D1 expression. This data suggest the mechanisms by which these extracts suppress cell growth and induce apoptosis involve enhanced NAG-1 expression and/or down-regulation of β-catenin signaling, followed by reduced cyclin D1 expression in human colorectal cancer cells. [15]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Prunus serotina Ehrh. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2011 Oct 18; cited 2016 Oct 24]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 731-732.
  3. Subhadrabandhu S. Prunus L. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE Editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1991; p. 262-266.
  4. Culbreth D. A Manual of Materia Medica and Pharmacology. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1927.
  5. Ibarra-Alvarado C, Rojas A, Luna F, Rojas JI, Rivero-Cruz B, Rivero-Cruz JF. Vasorelaxant of the leaves of Prunus serotina “Capulin”. Rev Latinoamer Quim. 2009;37(2):164-173.
  6. Olszewska M. Quantitative HPLC analysis of flavonoids and chlorogenic acid in the leaves and inflorescences of Prunus serotina Ehrh. Acta Chromatographica. 2007;19:253-269.
  7. Hamel, Paul B, Mary U. Chiltoskey. Cherokee plants and their uses - A 400 year history. Sylva, North Carolina: Herald Publishing Co; 1975.
  8. Carr LG, Westey C. Surviving folktales & herbal lore among the Shinnecock Indians. J Am Folklore. 1945;58(228):113-123.
  9. Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press; 2009.
  10. Romero JB. The botanical lore of the California Indians. New York: Vantage Press Inc.; 1954.
  11. Mechling WH. The Malecite Indians with notes on the Micmacs. Anthropologica 8. 1959;8:239-263.
  12. Chandler RF, Freeman L, Hooper SN. Herbal remedies of the Maritime Indians. J Ethnopharmacol. 1979;1(1):49-68.
  13. Smith HH. Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bull Public Mus Milwaukee. 1932;4(3):327-525.
  14. Speck FG. Medicine practices of the Northeastern Algonquians. Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Americanists; 1917.
  15. Yamaguchi K, Liggett JL, Kim NC, Baek SJ. Anti-proliferative effect of horehound leaf and wild cherry bark extracts on human colorectal cancer cells. Oncol Rep. 2006;15(1):275-281.