Montana Outdoors

May 25, 2018


Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:29 am



Chokecherry blossoms are now about at the end of their cycle now here in western Montana. Judging by the abundance of blossoms this year the wonderful berries should be plentiful in a few more weeks and I look forward to using their juice to make jelly or syrup which I enjoy more than any other.


Chokecherry ~ prunus virginiana

*** CAUTION! ***

I have used the juice for many years in making delicious jelly and syrup but have always extracted the juice while being careful to avoid crushing or including the large seeds which can be toxic. Following are excerpts from several sources that warn of the potential toxicity of parts of the plant (including the seeds):

“Chokecherry is toxic to horses, moose, cattle, goats, deer, and other animals with segmented stomachs (rumens), especially after the leaves have wilted (such as after a frost or after branches have been broken) because wilting releases cyanide and makes the plant sweet. About 10–20 lbs of foliage can be fatal.” (From Wikipedia)

“Warning: New growth, wilted leaves, or plant parts that are injured by frost or drought are poisonous to cattle and humans. The toxin, hydrocyanic acid, is formed in the animals stomach. Hydrocyanic acid quickly affects animals and causes difficulty in breathing, slow pulse, dilated pupils, staggering and loss of consciousness before death. Chokecherry toxicity is highest during the spring and summer; however, leaves are non-toxic by the time fruits mature.” (Rangeland Ecosystems) (From Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database)

“CAUTION: PARTS OF THIS PLANT CAN BE POISONOUS. The seeds are toxic due to production of hydrocyanic acid in the leaves, stems and seeds. The almond-like nuts are treated to deactivate the poisonous glycosides before they are put on the market. Cases of illness and deaths have been traced back to eating the seeds of these trees.” (From the USDA Plant Fact Sheet)

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