CHERRY, CHOKECHERRY, PLUM (PRUNUS SPECIES)
Chokecherries, bird cherries, and black cherries are abundant native shrubs and trees in the Nova Scotia countryside. Only the seeds (stones) of these flavourful fruit are poisonous.
Cherry and its relatives can be easily identified by examining the base of the leaves. There are one or two small bumps (glands) on the leaf stalk next to the green blade.
Peaches and plums are grown in sheltered orchards, especially in the Annapolis Valley. Almonds are not usually planted here but are included because they belong to the same genus
Generally, it is thought that the leaves, twigs, and stones of both wild and cultivated species contain cyanide-producing glycoside. It is not recommended that cherrywood be used for any whistles, food vessels, or other implements.
Seeds, bark, and leaves of plants belonging to this family, which, in addition to roses, includes almonds, cherries, plums, apples, pears, peaches, and apricots.The pulp of the fruits themselves is safe. The greatest concentration of the toxin occurs in vigorous growth shoots, seeds, and wilted leaves.
Glycoside, producing cyanide. The seeds, bark, and leaves contain a cyanide-producing compound called amygdalin. In addition, wild cherries (chokecherries) produce prunasin, a similar compound. Cyanide is associated with the smell of bitter almonds, but commercial almond oil is always treated to remove the cyanide.
TYPICAL POISONING SCENARIO
Consumption of young shoots, leaves, and/or quantities of seeds by livestock or children. Wild cherries, the berries of the closely related mountain ash, and rose hips are more likely causes than domestic fruits, as the seeds, pits, and stones of the latter are too large and unpalatable to swallow. Wild cherry bark has reportedly been used to brew a stimulating tea, but the potential for cyanide poisoning makes it a risky beverage.
In very small doses, the human digestive tract is capable of breaking down plant cyanides into harmless compounds. Therefore, accidental ingestion of a single apple seed or cherry pit, though not recommended, is unlikely to cause any serious trouble.
However, larger doses cause anxiety, confusion, dizziness, headaches, and vomiting. In severe poisoning, breathing difficulty, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and kidney failure are followed by coma and convulsions. Death may then occur rapidly from respiratory arrest.
CHERRY, CHOKECHERRY, PLUM POISON INFORMATION
Glycosides are toxins in which at least one sugar molecule is linked with oxygen to another compound, often nitrogen-based. They become harmful when the sugar molecule is stripped off, as in the process of digestion.