For many people, spring is associated with the most wonderful time of the year, when bird cherry begins to bloom. On the streets, in parks and gardens, along the banks of lakes and rivers, as well as on the edges of the forest, elegant trees and bushes suddenly appear, enveloped in a cloud of white fragrant flowers. This is not just a beautiful plant, it also has a number of useful properties that are widely used by pharmacists in the manufacture of medicines. Read more about bird cherry, planting and caring for it.
Area and applications
This is a fairly common tree in the European part of our country, ranging from the steppe regions to the very forest-tundra, Western Siberia of the North Caucasus. Bird cherry also grows in large quantities in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Northern Turkey, Transcaucasia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, China and on the slopes of the Himalayas.
In Russia and other post-Soviet republics, bird cherry is actively used for planting greenery in towns and cities. With the onset of spring, leaves are one of the first to appear on it, and thanks to its fragrant flowers, it is a good honey plant. This plantproduces phytoncides in large quantities, which are capable of killing various pathogenic bacteria.
Its fruits are edible. They are used as a filling for pies, for the preparation of various drinks and jelly. Bird cherry has a number of useful properties used both in folk and official medicine. The leaves of the plant contain vitamin C and essential oils. Having brewed them together with flowers, we get a medicinal tea that helps a lot with various pulmonary diseases. In addition, elastic and at the same time soft wood is used in carpentry, and brown and green paints are made from the bark.
Bird cherry is either a tall shrub or a tree, often multi-stemmed, with black-gray matte cracking bark. Initially green, the shoots quickly change color to brown interspersed with whitish-yellow lenticels. The height of bird cherry can reach 10-17 meters.
The leaves are elliptical in shape and grow up to 15 cm long. The base can be either rounded or broadly wedge-shaped, turning into a petiole. Their top is sharp and short, and the plates are sharply serrated and slightly wrinkled. The coloration is gray below, and bluish-green, dark above.
Bird cherry flowers have a characteristic strong smell, more often white, less often pale pink, collected in drooping lush brushes, the length of which can be from 8 to 12 cm. They bloom in May, covering the entire tree with a white cloud. Its flowering serves as a kind of guideline, according towhich determine the start of agricultural and forestry work.
Bird cherry belongs to the family Pink, genus - Plum. Its fruits are spherical, shiny, painted black. They are edible and sweet in taste, yet astringent. The ripening period is the end of summer. With the onset of autumn, its green clusters turn black and become clearly visible against the background of yellow foliage.
The ratio of bird cherry to light is positive. She is very fond of sunny places, as well as spacious areas, but at the same time she is extremely shade-tolerant. Experts advise planting other trees next to it. This will promote cross-pollination and a good harvest. Planting trees should be done in autumn or spring. Seedlings must be spaced at least 5 meters apart.
Since bird cherry is an unpretentious plant, moderately moist, slightly acidic or neutral soil is perfect for it. To plant a young tree, you need to dig a hole, the width and depth of which should be about half a meter. It must be moistened with plenty of water, covered with a not very thick layer of loose earth, then sawdust and again a little soil. Each layer is watered with water with 80-100 g of mineral fertilizers diluted in it.
After that, the seedling is lowered into a hole to a depth of 30 cm. In this case, the root collar should be located at ground level or rise no more than 1-2 cm above the surface. Next, the roots are covered with earth, peat mulch is made and watered. After planting the treecut so that its height does not exceed 50-70 cm. Such bird cherry is not afraid of frost, therefore it does not need shelter.
The common bird cherry is an unpretentious tree. It only needs a few waterings throughout the year. An exception can only be too hot and dry summers. It is advisable to loosen the soil near the trunk several times during the season and remove the grown weeds. Over time, the soil begins to deplete, so you will need to carry out root dressing.
Experienced gardeners advise sanitary pruning of the plant annually, as over time the crown of the tree can become very thick. When thinning, broken and diseased branches are removed, and the places of cuts are treated with garden pitch. In order to rejuvenate the plant, as well as significantly increase the yield, it is necessary to cut down strong thickets. If desired, you can thus form a plant either in the form of a multi-stemmed shrub, or as a tree with a stem.
To form a lush crown, a bird cherry seedling is cut to a height of half a meter, while leaving four more developed side shoots. In the future, it will be necessary to form the second and third tiers of the tree. The soil around young plants must be periodically weeded and loosened, as well as removed emerging root offspring.
Pests and diseases
Mainly bird cherry is used as an ornamental tree. Unfortunately, it is often attacked by pests, which can later move to fruit crops. Exactly thiscircumstance somewhat restrains its spread.
Most often she suffers from mining moths, hawthorn and aphids. There are years when the invasion of pests is massive, then the harvest may not be at all. However, following insect control measures, this plant is still recommended for landscaping parks and gardens, as it is beautiful and extremely winter-hardy.
Most common bird cherry diseases are powdery mildew, cytosporosis, red spotting, coniothyroidism and pockets of flowers and fruits. The last one is considered the most dangerous of them. It is quite simple to determine the infestation of bird cherry with it - the fruits begin to gradually turn brown and become pointed to the tops. Then they lengthen and can even bend. These fruits never contain seeds. As for the infected flowers, they die almost immediately. The development of this disease is greatly facilitated by wet weather in spring and summer.
Bird cherry is bred by root offspring, cuttings, grafting, seed, layering, as well as vegetatively. However, not all types of reproduction are equally good. It is worth noting that cuttings take root especially poorly. Therefore, seed propagation is optimal for this crop. Before you start sowing a crop, its seeds must be placed either in moistened sand or in moss at a temperature of approximately +5 ⁰С.
The plant is grafted either in early spring or in winter simpleor improved copulation. Budding is also allowed, which is carried out in the middle of summer. Bird cherry seedlings are excellent as a rootstock for both methods. The survival rate of buds (budding) and cuttings (copulation) is very high - in 98 cases out of 100.
Usually this crop is grafted in cases where they want to create a breeding variety on which some special fruits, flowers, etc. will grow. I must say that with the seed method of propagation, all these special properties will be lost, since only an ordinary plant can grow from an elite seed. The selection view can be obtained as follows. To do this, you need an ordinary plant, in this case bird cherry, which will be used as a stock. The scion will be the part of the plant related to the breeding specimen.
Many gardeners are wondering "what can be grafted on bird cherry". The main thing you need to pay attention to is the compatibility of plants, which is determined by the proximity of kinship. For example, bird cherry can be an excellent stock for some cultivated cherry variety. Her scion will quickly take root, moreover, such manipulation is very beneficial for the northern regions. The fact is that bird cherry will transfer to cherry not only its resistance to most diseases, but also frost resistance.
Bird cherry, the photo of which is presented in this article, is a medicinal plant. She has a sedative, diaphoretic,diuretic, astringent, tonic, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic and antiscorbutic properties. This plant is used almost completely, including leaves, fruits, bark and flowers, all thanks to its chemical composition. Thus, the following active substances were found in bird cherry:
- lots of vitamins;
- organic acids;
- fatty oils;
- various trace elements;
In addition to the above elements, bird cherry has quite rare components. These include free hydrocyanic acid and benzaldehyde. For the manufacture of medicines, the fruits of the plant are most often used because of the tannins they contain, as well as citric and malic organic acids. They are highly valued for their astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, they can normalize the work of the intestines and stomach.
Flowers, bark and fruits of bird cherry are widely used in folk medicine. Raw materials are harvested exclusively in dry weather, best of all in the morning, when the dew has come down, or at the end of the day. At the same time, you should know that you can not cut the axial shoots of bird cherry, as well as break branches during its flowering. The collected fruits are placed in a basket. In this form, they should not be stored for a long time - a maximum of 3-4 hours.
Bird cherry fruits are best dried inspecial dryers, the temperature of which should not exceed 40-50 ⁰C. You can do this even in Russian ovens. If none of this is available, then the fruits are poured onto a net or onto a bed of paper or cloth with a layer of no more than 1-2 cm and dried in the sun, stirring from time to time. Before sending raw materials for storage, remove the stalks, brushes and burnt berries. The shelf life of such a collection is no more than 3-5 years. Dried raw materials are sweet and sour in taste, have a weak aroma and have a reddish or grayish coating in the folds of fruits, formed as a result of crystallized sugar.
As for the flowers of bird cherry, they are collected during the flowering period of the tree. The shelf life of this raw material should not exceed one year. The bark of the plant is harvested with the onset of spring. It can be dried in well-ventilated areas or outdoors. In addition, the use of dryers, the temperature of which is set at +40 ⁰C, is also allowed. The shelf life of a well-dried bark is about 5 years.
Use in traditional medicine
Bird cherry fruits are used as an astringent for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, dysentery and non-infectious diarrhea. Decoctions from the branches and bark of the plant will be useful as a diuretic for violations of mineral metabolism and some heart diseases. If you make an infusion from them, it will be effective as an anesthetic for rheumatism, sciatica and to relieve toothache.
Traditional healersbird cherry flowers are used to prepare a decoction, which will become indispensable for improper metabolism, pulmonary tuberculosis and various kinds of fevers. An infusion made from flowers and leaves can be used as a lotion and as a wash for eye diseases such as blepharitis, keratitis and conjunctivitis. In general, this plant is a very valuable tool that has a beneficial effect on human vision.
An infusion made from the leaves is used to treat lung diseases, bronchitis and diarrhea. It is also used as an external agent that can help with stomatitis and other diseases of the oral cavity. Lotions treat boils. The infusion is also used for douching with trichomonas colpitis and leucorrhea.
Before using medicines, which include bird cherry, the photo of which you can see in this article, you need to get expert advice. It must also be remembered that these drugs are among those whose dosage and rules for taking must be observed.
This is due to the fact that the branches, bark, flowers and leaves of this plant contain the substance glycoside amygdalin. It is able to break down into glucose and hydrocyanic acid as soon as it enters the human body. Especially with an overdose of the latter, severe intoxication occurs. However, in a small amount, hydrocyanic acid cannot cause any harm to the body. In addition, all preparations from bird cherry are completelycontraindicated both during pregnancy and lactation.