Native American tribes had many medicinal uses for the Chokecherry tree (Prunus Virginiana). The Chokecherry naturally produces astringent, antitussive, and sedative properties that constrict body tissue and blood vessels.
Chokecherry’s contain high levels of anthocyanin pigments (anti-oxidants) with a concentration that is higher than the levels reported for cranberry. The fruit was used for canker sores, sore throats, sore eyes, and gastric issues. Dried chokecherries were, chewed, and placed in wounds to prevent further bleeding. Chokecherry calms the respiratory nerves and depresses coughs, bronchitis, scrofula, fever, and asthma. The bark of the root makes concoction used to treat colds, fever and stomach maladies.
The Paiute name for the chokecherry "Daw-esha-boi". The inner bark was used by natives in their smoking mixtures, known as ”Kinnikinnick”. Chokecherries were used by the Jicarilla Apaches to make Pemmican (a pressed cake), consisting of a mixture of elk, deer meat and fat. It was used as traveling rations as well as everyday food. Chokecherry leaves and bark are toxic to horses, moose, cattle, goats, deer, and other animals with segmented stomachs due to naturally occurring high concentrations of hydrocyanic acid.
The Spanish name for chokecherry is “Capulin”.
When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico they quickly realized the value of chokecherries for its medicinal properties, an important food staple and an excellent source for making a Magnificent Wine.
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