Thursday, April 21, 2011

Folklore of the Hedgerow. Part Eight.

Folklore of The Hedgerow. Part Eight.

Folklore of The Wild Cherry. Silín.

In early Irish law the cherry was classified as an Aithig fédo or Commoner of the Wood.

There is very little Irish folklore surrounding the Cherry.

The wild cherry is also known as the bird cherry as they are used as a food source by a huge amount of bird species. You have to be quick if you want to beat the birds to the abundant crop that results from a good spring and summer, and they are often picked when they are still a yellowish red colour before they ripen to a deep reddish purple. They can be used in pies, wine, liquors and even a dessert soup.

Wild cherries were both used to flavour alcoholic drinks such as whisky or gin, and cherry Brandy can easily be made by filling a bottle with wild cherries, adding sugar, topping up with brandy and leaving for a few months.

The resin which leaks from the trunk was formerly used by children as chewing gum.

It is recorded as a treatment for coughs, and when it was dissolved in wine, it was used to treat gall stones and kidney stones. The bark was used to make fabric dyes, ranging in colour from cream to tan, while a reddish-purple colour was derived from the roots.

Apparently the precursor to cyanide is found in healthy cherry tree leaves and the cyanide is released when the leaves are damaged. It does not specifically go into the leaves that fall off the tree in autumn. It has also been suggested that large amounts of healthy leaves can be toxic. Wild cherry is generally regarded as safe when used at recommended doses. However, since it contains small amounts of cyanide it should not be taken in anything other than very small doses. It should never be taken by young children, pregnant women or those who have liver or kidney problems.

There has been some evidence that would suggest that wild cherry may interact with various medications so I would think very carefully before taking it.

Disclaimer: Do Not Take any herbal remedy before consulting a qualified practitioner and ALWAYS check with your doctor.

Middle image: Under the Cherry Tree by the Irish artist John Lavery (1856-1941)

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