Wild Cherry Bark

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Glycosides

Wild cherry bark is the dried bark of Prunus serotina Ehrhart., belonging to family Rosaceae.






Virginian Prune, Black Cherry, Virginian Bark, Cortex Pruni.


Biological Source


Wild cherry bark is the dried bark of Prunus serotina Ehrhart., belonging to family Rosaceae.


Geographical Source


North America generally, especially in Northern and Central States.


Cultivation and Collection


This tree grows from 50 to 80 feet high, and 2–4 feet in diameter. The bark is collected in autumn from young branches and stem. In some cases cork and cortex are removed after collection, by peeling. If the bark is peeled it is called rossed bark and if not peeled, it is unrossed barks. It is carefully dried and preserved in airtight containers.




The bark is black and rough and separates naturally from the trunk. Leaves deciduous, 3–5 inches long, about 2 inches wide, petioles have two pairs of reddish glands, they are obovate, acuminate, with incurved short teeth, thickish and smooth and glossy on upper surface; flowers bloom in May, and are white, in erect long terminal racemes, with occasional solitary flowers in the axils of the leaves.


Fruit about the size of a pea, purply-black, globular drupe, edible with bitterish taste, is ripe in August and September. The root-bark is of most value, but that of the trunk and branches is also utilized. This bark must be freshly collected each season as its properties deteriorate greatly if kept longer than a year. It has a short friable frac-ture, and in commerce, it is found in varying lengths and widths of 1–8 inches, slightly curved, outer bark removed with a reddish-fawn colour. These fragments easily powder. It has the odour of almonds, which almost disappears on drying, but is renewed by maceration. Its taste is aromatic, prussic, and bitter. It imparts its virtues to water or alcohol, boiling impairs its medicinal properties.


                             Prunus serotina

Chemical Constituents


It contains prunasin, a cyanogenetic glycoside. Prunasin is hydrolysed in presence of water by prunase enzyme present in the drug into benzaldehyde, glucose and hydrocyanic acid. It further contains coumarin derivative scopoletin. Starch, resin, tannin, gallic acid, fatty matter, lignin, red colouring matter, salts of calcium, potassium, and iron, also a volatile oil associated with hydrocyanic acid are present.




Astringent tonic, pectoral, sedative and expectorant. It has been used in the treatment of bronchitis of various types. It is valuable in catarrah, whooping cough, and dyspepsia.


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