Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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chokecherry Prunus virginiana, the common chokecherry, which grows widely in the USA, so named because of the fierce sourness and astringency of the fruit when unripe. As William Wood (quoted from Fernald and Kinsey, 1943) wrote in 1634, ‘they so furre the mouth that the tongue will cleave to the roofe, and the throate wax horse with swallowing those red Bullies. English ordering may bring them to be an English Cherrie, but yet they are as wilde as the Indians.’ However, when the fruit was fully ripe, it was used by whites and Indians alike. The latter had many traditional uses and used the fruits in pemmican, their preserved dried meat.