19. Cherry Plum

(Prunus cerasifera)

Other Common Name: Myrobalan Plum,

Family: Rosaceae

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Beauty of architecture juxtaposed with nature's unique form is splendidly epitomized with this tree, saved from a threatened death when Allen Library was constructed. View the tree against the library, or from within the building--either way shows how saving mature trees when new buildings go up can lend dignified beauty.

An Asia Minor species, this is the ancestor to the ubiquitous Purpleleaf Plums. In earliest spring the tree's gnarly old trunk, rough and dark, contrasts sublimely with snow white blossoms covering each twig. Then lush green new leaves adorn it.  This craggy specimen grows only a few, small, yellow plums.

A green dye can be obtained from this trees leaves, and a dark grey to green dye can be obtained from its fruit. The species survives well in light shade but will produce more fruit in the sun. Most members of the Prunus genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavor. The toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seeds and can be detected by its bitter taste. It is not usually present in enough quantity to do harm, but still bitter fruits should not be eaten.

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