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The Bounty of the Black Cherry Tree

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our native black cherry tree, Prunus serotina, produces showy, elongated racemes of individual white, perfect, flowers in early spring. These flowers have pollen and nectar coveted by insects and are pollinated by native bees, flies, and honeybees. In early summer they ripen and have a sweet, pungent taste. If you’re interested in foraging, you might want to look in the old cookbook Charleston Receipts for the cherry bounce recipe. You’ll have to beat the birds and deer to the fruits, gather a full quart, remove the pits, a hard stone that contains cyanide compounds, and wash them. Put them in a glass or earthenware container, and add a cup of sugar and one quart of good whiskey, I suggest Bourbon. After ten days, strain the collected liquid and bottle it. I’ve read that it makes one heck of a Manhattan!

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.