Smart 55: Choke cherry a versatile shrub for First Nations traditional use

Smart 55: Choke cherry a versatile shrub for First Nations traditional use

Choke cherry or Prunus virginiana, is a common shrub that grows in the Cariboo region.

Choke cherry or Prunus virginiana, is a common shrub that grows in the Cariboo region.

In the last few weeks locals have been picking the shiny round crimson black cherries to freeze or can for syrups, including Diane Daniels who was picking them one sunny Thursday near Xat’sull Heritage Village above the Fraser River.

First Nations people in the southern and northern Interior have traditionally used the fruit, often drying them.

They used the choke cherry wood for handles and shredded the bark and used it for decorating basket rims.

“They made a tonic from the bark for regaining strength after childbirth,” states an information page on the BC Government’s website.