Rhamnus caroliniana Walter
Common Name: Indian Cherry
Frangula caroliniana is a deciduous shrub or a small tree with an open, spreading crown; it usually grows 2 - 6 metres tall, occasionally reaching 10 metres or more in partially shaded locations[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Species in this genus contain hydroxyanthracene derivatives which have a stimulant laxative effect upon the body, and many species are used traditionally as laxatives. In small doses, and for short periods, these can be safe and effective, but used over long periods they can weaken the body's natural ability to defecate and can have a range of long-lasting negative effects upon the body, including anaemia, malabsorption, haematuria and weight loss. Large single doses can cause severe purging.
Southeastern N. America - Illinois to Washington DC, south to Texas and Florida
Dry to moist barrens, sandy and gravelly flats, roadsides, ravines, bluffs, limestone bluffs, shell middens, bottomlands, swamp and pond edges, coastal hammocks, deciduous and coniferous forests; at elevations from 50 - 500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Frangula caroliniana is a moderately cold-hardy plant according to one report, which says that it is able to tolerate temperatures down to around -20°c when fully dormant[
], though another report suggests that it does not grow well in temperate zones with cool summers[
Prefers a moist moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade[
]. Succeeds in any reasonably good soil[
], whether moderately acid or alkaline[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
A slow-growing and usually short-lived plant in the wild[
Plants are susceptible to 'crown rust' of oats[
]. The species in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
This species is closely related to Frangula purshiana[
Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit has a thin rather dry flesh[
] with a sweet and agreeable flavour[
]. The black, globose fruit is about 7 - 10mm in diameter and contains 2 - 4 small seeds[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
A tea made from the bark is emetic and strongly laxative[
]. It is used in the treatment of constipation with nervous or muscular atony of the intestines[
An infusion of the wood has been used in the treatment of jaundice[
The plant responds to trimming and can be grown as a hedge[
Wood - rather hard, light, close grained, not strong[
]. It weighs 34lb per cubic foot[
]. Too small to be of commercial value[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed will require 1 - 2 months stratification at 5°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, autumn in a frame.
Layering in early spring[