Facts about Mongolian Cherry

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Mongolian Cherry Quick Facts
Name: Mongolian Cherry
Scientific Name: Prunus fruticosa
Origin Ciscaucasia, western Siberia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang China, western Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, and Italy
Colors Green when young turning to very deep reddish purple as they mature
Shapes About the size of a large pea, globose to pyriform, about 8–25 mm in diameter
Taste Sour-sweet, or tart
Health benefits Helps to stimulate respiration, improves digestion, coughs, colds, gout and gives a sense of well-being.
Prunus fruticosa popularly known as Mongolian Cherry is a deciduous shrub of low, spreading habit belonging to Rosaceae (Rose family). The plant is native to Ciscaucasia, western Siberia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang China, western Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, and Italy. Some of the popular common names of the plant are Dwarf cherry, European dwarf cherry, Steppe cherry, Siberian cherry and Mongolian cherry. It is also called ground cherry and European ground cherry, but is not to be confused with plants in the distinct “Ground cherry” genus of Physalis. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is occasionally grown as a fruit crop in gardens, is used as a rootstock for the cherry and is also sometimes grown as an ornamental.

Mongolian Cherry Facts

Name Mongolian Cherry
Scientific Name Prunus fruticosa
Native Ciscaucasia, western Siberia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang China, western Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, and Italy
Common Names Dwarf cherry, Ground cherry, European ground cherry , European dwarf cherry, Steppe cherry, Siberian cherry, Mongolian cherry
Name in Other Languages Arabic: Karaz qizm ‘uwrubiyun  (كرز قزم أوروبي)
Azerbaijani: Yabanı gilas
Bulgarian: Stepna višna  (степна вишна), khrastovidna cheresha (храстовидна череша)
Chinese: Cao yuan ying tao (草原樱桃)
Croatian: Patuljasta trešnja
Czech: Třešeň křovitá
Danish: Dvaergkirsebaer , Joedekirsebaer
Dutch: Dwergkers
English: Dwarf cherry, Ground cherry, European ground cherry , European dwarf cherry, Steppe cherry, Siberian cherry, Mongolian cherry
Finnish: Euroopankääpiökirsikka, Arokirsikka
French: Cerisier buissonnant, Cerisier des steppes, Cerisier nain, Griottier nain, Prunier nain, Prunier buissonant
German: Steppenkirsche, Zwergkirsche, Zwergekirsche, Strauch-Kirsche, Steppenkirschbaum, Zwergkirschbaum
Hungarian: Csepleszmeggy, molyhos madárhúr               
Italian: Ciliegio nano, Ciliegio cespuglioso, pruno fruticosa
Kazakh: Dalalıq şïye, Далалық шие, دالالىق شىييە
Persian: پرونوس فروتیکوسا
Polish: Wishnia karlowata, Wisnia karlowata, wisienka stepowa
Portuguese: Cereja-anã
Russian: Stepnaia vishnia, Vishennik, Vishnia kustarnikovaia (Вишня кустарниковая)
Serbian: Divlja višnja (дивља вишња), stepska višnja (степска вишња)
Slovak: Cerešňa krovitá
Spanish: Cerezo enano, cerezo enano europeo, cerezo mongol
Swedish: Stäppkörsbär
Turkish: Bodur kiraz
Ukrainian: Vyshnya shtepova (Вишня степова), vyshnya kushchova (вишня кущова)
Upper Sorbian: Mała wišnja
Plant Growth Habit Much-branched, deciduous, xerophytic, winter-hardy, cherry-bearing shrub
Growing Climates Shrubby thickets, dry grassland, forest-steppes, steppe zone, broad-leaved forest margins, open dry slopes, flatlands with dry steppe vegetation, karst areas
Soil Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. It also prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present
Plant Size Usually grows 20 – 100 cm tall, occasionally reaching 200 cm
Bark Bark is dark brown with yellow lenticels
Leaf Oblanceolate to obovate, tapering to both ends about 12 mm long and 6 mm wide, with acuminate apex, glabrous above, thick, serrated with crenate margin, dark glossy green, yellow in autumn, with a short petiole
Flowering season Early May
Flower Flowers are white hermaphroditic blossoms in leafy bracts located 2-4 each on short peduncles in sessile umbels. They are produced in usually stalk less umbels of about four from buds on the previous year’s shoots, each flower on a slender stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. They are pollinated by bees.
Fruit Shape & Size Fruits are about the size of a large pea, globose to pyriform, about 8–25 mm in diameter
Fruit Color Green when young turning to very deep reddish purple as they mature
Propagation By Seeds, Cuttings
Taste Sour-sweet, or tart
Plant Parts Used Fruits, Seeds
Season July to August
Lifespan Approximately 20 years
Precautions
  • In larger concentrations, however, cyanide can cause gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma and respiratory failure leading to death.

Plant Description

Mongolian Cherry is a much-branched, deciduous, xerophytic, winter-hardy, cherry-bearing shrub that normally grows about 20 – 100 cm tall, occasionally reaching 200 cm. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years. The plant is found growing in shrubby thickets, dry grassland, forest-steppes, steppe zone, broad-leaved forest margins, open dry slopes, flatlands with dry steppe vegetation and karst areas. It thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. It also prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. The plant produces suckers, forming a thicket. Roots are abundant. The plant requires full sun; it is a steppe rather than a forest plant, although it does form thickets at the edges of open forest.

Leaves

Leaves are oblanceolate to obovate, tapering to both ends about 12 mm long and 6 mm wide, with acuminate apex, glabrous above, thick, serrated with crenate margin, dark glossy green, and yellow in autumn, with a short petiole.

Bud Arrangement Alternate
Bud Color Brown
Bud Size  1/8 inch
Leaf Type and Shape Simple, ovate-elliptical
Leaf Margins Crenate-serrulate
Leaf Surface Glossy, smooth
Leaf Length 3/4 to 2 inches
Leaf Width  3/8 to 1 inch
Leaf Color Dark glossy-green; yellow fall color

 

Flowers

The flowers are white hermaphroditic blossoms in leafy bracts located 2-4 each on short peduncles in sessile umbels. They are produced in usually stalk less umbels of about four from buds on the previous year’s shoots, each flower on a slender stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. They are pollinated by bees. In the Northern Hemisphere, the plant flowers in May. This is a self-pollinating variety, so it doesn’t require a second plant close to set fruit. The flowers are its basis of bee-keeping honey plant.

Flower Type 2 or 4 flowers in sessile umbels, with leafy bracts
Flower Color White

Fruits

Fertile flowers are followed by fruits that are about the size of a large pea, globose to pyriform, about 8–25 mm in diameter. Fruits are initially green turning to very deep reddish purple as they mature. Fruit start ripening in August. The taste is sour-sweet, or tart.

Fruit Type Cherry-shaped fruit, globose
Fruit Color Dark red

Traditional uses and benefits of Mongolian Cherry

  • In small amounts this extremely poisonous compound helps to stimulate respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
  • It has been used as an astringent for coughs, colds, gout, and in cancer research.

Culinary Uses

  • Fruit can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • As a sour tasting cherry, the fruit is used in cooking, and for jams and jellies.
  • It can also be made into preserves or dried for later use.
  • Seed can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter.

Other Facts

  • A green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
  • A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
  • It is planted in hedgerows as an ornamental plant privacy screen and windbreak.
  • It is a host plant for bees and other beneficial insects and birds.
  • It is used for screen, hedge, border and group plantings.
  • The shrub’s network of penetrating roots is useful for soil stabilization in designed landscapes and habitat restoration projects.
  • The plant is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard.

Mongolian Cherry is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Orchard/Edible Landscaping

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24779#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=29899

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+fruticosa

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/rjp-5896

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_fruticosa

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/trees/handbook/th-3-9.pdf

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/PRNFR

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/44284

https://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Prunus+fruticosa

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=PRFR2

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