Cherry Tree Uses
Tree Healing Therapy
Botanical name Prunus avium / Family RosaceaeThe wild cherry is a small, vigorous, deciduous tree that is native to Europe, north-west Africa and western Asia. It has a broadly rounded crown, smooth grey-brown bark and showy white flowers that blossom in early spring. The fruit is a sweet, red to dark-red drupe that matures early to mid-summer.
History, mystery and spiritual healing The seeds of a number of cherry species have been found in Bronze Age and Roman archeological sites throughout Europe. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean, sweet cherry trees landed in North America with English colonists in 1629, and were later introduced to California by Spanish missionaries.
Cherries are beloved as fruit by adults and children alike, but poetry and paintings honour the beauty of cherry blossom, which has much symbolism. In China, cherry blossom signifies feminine beauty. In Japan, the blossom represents the fast-moving accumulation and dispersal of clouds, mirroring the ephemeral nature of life, and is associated with the Buddhist religion. The crowded cherry blossom festivals in Japan (hanami matsuri) attract the Japanese spiritual mind, which looks for harmony in all things animate and inanimate, as viewers contemplate the psyche-soothing blooms.
Bird cherry was used medicinally during the Middle Ages, when bark placed at the door was supposed to ward off the plague. Sweet cherries and bird cherries were both used to flavour alcoholic drinks, especially cherry brandy - kirsch takes its name from the word karshu, given to the first cultivated cherries in Mesopotamia in 8 BCE - and German 'cherry water' aged in ash barrels; both are good for heart-warming during a cold winter.
Highly toxic in excessive dosages, wild bird-cherry bark was used by Cherokee women for labour pains; other Native Americans used it for coughs and colds, haemorrhoids and diarrhoea. Early American colonists used it to treat bronchitis and made the stalks into various medicinal tonics. Formerly used by children as chewing gum, the tree resin dissolved in wine reportedly treated coughs, gall stones and kidney stones.
Currently the antioxidant value of bright-red and black cherry pigments (anthocyanins) is key to its ability to help relieve the inflammation of gout. Consuming cherries and cherry juice on a regular basis may help to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Scientists are studying the benefits of cherry juice and potential direct applications in the treatment and prevention of cancer.Cautions At the time of writing there are no known contraindications for the correct use of sweet or sour cherries' flesh and juice. However, the seeds (pips) contain poisonous cyanides, mainly in the form of cyanogenic glycosides as a defense against herbivores - as few in a cherry pie cause no harm, but consumed in excess can be lethal. Mild poisoning symptoms include headache, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, and vomiting.