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Choke Cherry Trees


Zone Kentucky | WhiteHorse added on January 25, 2018 | Answered

I am writing a children’s novel with planned sequels. The books are set in Kentucky. Are Chokecherries toxic to children who may eat the berries. Somewhere I remember hearing about small children in Wisconsin stuffing themselves with the sweet berries and the mother using cream which she spooned into their mouths to coat their stomachs so they would stop coughing and choking from the astringent berries. Is this a correct scenario for the 1880’s, and would this work. Apparently all the children survived though they didn’t eat the berries again.
I understand the berries can be used for jam and jellies, but there is a pit in the center of each berry that can be toxic. Thank you for your help as I may use this information in a sequel.

I also had the chokecherry situated at a corner of the farm growing up behind a hedgerow (roots and rocks piled to mark the boundary of the field). I realized that this would encourage deer to come and they would then go after the farmer’s corn, so I have positioned the Chokecherries near a marshy area about a mile from the farm. This marsh also plays into the novel.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on January 25, 2018

This is correct. Chokecherries contain hydrocyanic acid in the leaves stems and pits. This breaks down into cyanide in the body.

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Answered on January 29, 2018

They are called chokecherries because they are very bitter. It is unlikely a child would ingest enough to cause more than a tummy ache.

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