Deciduous shrub or tree growing to 26 ft (8 m). It has reddish-brown bark, oval to elliptical leaves, clusters of 2–6 white flowers,and almost spherical red fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to southwestern Asia, cherry is naturalized in Europeand cultivated in temperate regions around the world. The stems and ripe fruit are collected in summer.
Cherry stems contain phenols, including salicylic acid, and tannins. Cherry fruit contains anthocyanins and flavonoids, including quercetin, carotenoids, sugars, fruit acids, vitamin C, and melatonin.
History & Folklore
The 16th-century herbalist John Gerard recorded the French custom of hanging cherries in houses to ward off fever.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
In European herbal medicine, cherries and cherry stems have long been used for their diuretic and astringent properties. They have been prescribed for cystitis, nephritis, and urinary retention, and for arthritic problems,notably gout. Cherries and cherry juice can be useful in treating gout and arthritic problems. Their fruit sugar content makes them mildly laxative.
In a 2012 American-Australian clinical study involving 633 people with gout, the risk of an acute gout attack was reduced by 35% for those taking cherry extract. One laboratory study concluded that the anti-inflammatory activities of anthocyanins within cherry fruit are comparable to those of ibuprofen.
The seeds are toxic and should not be consumed.