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Sour Cherry Leaves
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Sour Cherry leaves are long, ovate leaves. They are dark green and glossy, and may have downy undersides. Each leaf grows to around 5 to 8 centimeters in length, and 3 to 7 centimeters in width. There is one leaf per node on the steam, and the edge of the leaf blade may be serrated, with the leaves ending in sharp points. Fruit ranges from bright red to almost black, and grows on short stalks. The fruit and leaves appear on the tree which is shrubby, growing to 4 to 10 meters in height. Sour Cherry leaves are bitter in taste.
Sour Cherry leaves are available in the spring, summer and fall seasons.
Sour Cherry leaves come from the Prunus cerasus plant, belonging to the Rosaceae family. The fruit of the Sour Cherry is more acidic (and thus tart) than the sweet cherry. Sour Cherry leaves are used mostly medicinally, for various ailments from pain relief to upset stomachs. Sour Cherry leaves should not be taken in large amounts, as they contain the chemical hydrogen cyanide. In small doses, this has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, but is TOXIC in large amounts. The extracts of Sour Cherry leaves may be used in cosmetics, and a green dye for textiles is also produced from the leaves.
Sour Cherry leaves are rich in antioxidants, flavanoids, phenolic acids, and salicylic acid, which aid in maintaining cellular and skin health. Some studies have shown that Sour Cherry leaves may contain compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, and like the fruit, may provide some relief for muscle pain.
Sour Cherry leaves are most often chopped, dried, and made into a bitter-tasting tea, drunk for health benefits. They may be boiled and stewed, and the water drunk. To store Sour Cherry leaves, tie them in a bunch and place in an aerated plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will last for several days to a week.
Sour Cherry leaves are known in Unani traditional medicine, which originated in Greece and which is still practicied on the Indian subcontinent. In this system, Sour Cherry leaves may be boiled and stewed, and used for the treatment of diabetes, to relieve pain, and for upset stomachs. The cooking water of Sour Cherry leaves is said to be good for lowering cholesterol.
Sour Cherries are native to Southwest Asia and Europe. They are thought to be a natural hybrid of Prunus avium (the sweet cherry) and Prunus fruticosa (the European dwarf cherry). It is thought that Sour Cherries may have originated in Eastern Europe or Iran, where the two species come into contact. The new, distinct species is what we refer to as Sour Cherry.