Prunus serotina (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

Black cherry (Prunus serotina) is a native tree found in eastern Canada. It is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental. The plant contains chemicals that can release hydrogen cyanide in animals. All types of animals can be poisoned by ingesting leaves and twigs. There have been claims of children dying after ingesting an excessive number of seeds, found in the berries. Cyanide poisoning interferes with respiration and blood circulation; death is often swift (Kingsbury 1964, Cheeke 1983, Cheeke and Schull 1985).

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Hardin, J. W., Arena, J. M. 1969. Human poisoning from native and cultivated plants. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., USA. 167 pp.
  • Keeler, R. F. 1983. Naturally occurring teratogens from plants. Pages 161-199 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.
  • Mulligan, G. A., Munro, D. B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds. 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Can. J. Plant Sci., 61: 977-992.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Prunus serotina Ehrh.
Vernacular name(s):
black cherry
Scientific family name:
Rosaceae
Vernacular family name:
rose

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Prunus serotina

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Quebec

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063.94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

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Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

The leaves of black cherry contain on average of 212 mg hydrocyanic acid (HCN) per 100 g of fresh leaves. A lethal dose of HCN for humans is between 0.5 and 0.35 mg/kg of body weight. The lethal dose of HCN for cattle and sheep is about 2.0 mg/kg of body weight (Kingsbury 1964).

Toxic parts:

  • leaves
  • seeds
  • twigs

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Two cyanogenic glycosides are found in black cherry. Amygdalin and prunasin are found in the leaves, twigs, and seeds (Cheeke and Schull 1985). Hydrogen cyanide is formed when the glycosides are hydrolyzed by plant enzymes after damage or by rumen organisms. Majak et al. (1990) found that cyanide production is most rapid in cattle that had been starved for a day. High rates of cyanide production were obtained in the rumen after the animal ingested fresh alfalfa and cubed alfalfa hay.

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • amygdalin
  • prunasin

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Majak, W., McDiarmid, R. E., Hall, J. W., Cheng, K.-J. 1990. Factors that determine rates of cyanogenesis in bovine ruminal fluid in vitro. J. Anim. Sci., 68: 1648-1655.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning are common to all animals. Symptoms may be minimal, with difficult breathing followed by death. Other signs of toxicity may include a short period of stimulation followed by slow pulse, dilated pupils, spasms, staggering, loss of consciousness, and death, which results from asphyxiation. Postmortem findings include bright red blood and congestion of internal organs (Kingsbury 1964, Scimeca and Oehme 1985).

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Horses

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

See notes under cattle for more information.

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Ingesting large quantities of berries has caused poisoning, because of the toxin in the seeds. Children have been poisoned by chewing twigs or drinking tea made from the leaves. Symptoms include difficult breathing, voice paralysis, twitching, spasms, coma of short duration, and death. Cyanide poisoning can occur quickly, with few symptoms (Hardin and Arena 1969).

References:

  • Hardin, J. W., Arena, J. M. 1969. Human poisoning from native and cultivated plants. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., USA. 167 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Sheep

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

See notes under cattle for more information.

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Swine

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Keeler, R. F. 1983. Naturally occurring teratogens from plants. Pages 161-199 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.

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