Foraging Wild Fruit: Pin Cherry

Photo of Pin Cherry handful

Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) flowers earlier in spring and has fruit ripe sooner than both Choke Cherry and Black Cherry. And whereas Choke and Black have numerous flowers borne in racemes and fruit that is ripe when dark purple or black, Pin Cherry has flowers in small clusters, called fascicles, and fruit that looks like miniature maraschino cherries when ripe.

Their taste, however, is not sickly sweet but typically quite tart. I enjoy sampling small numbers of the fresh fruit, spitting out the hard pits* as I go. Culinarily crafty foragers could use the fruit to make attractive and flavorful jellos, jellies, syrups, and preserves.

Photo of Pin Cherry bark

Pin Cherry bark has obvious lenticels and is generally reddish-brown. These small, fast-growing and short-lived trees have an affinity for burned or otherwise disturbed sites.

*Pin Cherry pits, leaves, bark, etc., contain a carbohydrate called prunasin that is broken down in the body into various compounds, including hydrocyanic acid, which is harmful to humans in sufficient quantity.

Note: Pin Cherry was featured in Quiz #110: Wild Edibles.

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