Summary of chokecherry and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: ahkay

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Chokecherry is widespread throughout North America, including California. It grows as a shrub as well as a tree, reaching heights of 20 feet. Its dark green and glossy leaves are winter deciduous and provide fall color. The fruits are bright red to black and contain small amounts of cyanide.

 

The Kukeyaay eat the berries when fresh, very ripe and dark in color (containing less cyanide). The seeds can be ground to use in cookies or cakes.