Are There Any Poisonous Cherries? Everything You Need to Know

Are there any poisonous cherries out there? It’s a question that many of us have probably never considered before, but it’s certainly worth exploring. While cherries are typically known for their sweet and tart flavors, it’s important to be aware of any potential hazards that could come along with consuming them. With so many different types of cherries available, it’s important to know which ones are safe and which ones could pose a risk.

As with any type of fruit, cherries can vary in their level of toxicity. While some cherries are completely safe for consumption, others can be poisonous and may even cause serious health problems if ingested. It’s important to note that poisonous cherries are not just a concern for humans, but for animals as well. From wild birds to household pets, the consumption of toxic cherries can be dangerous and potentially deadly.

So, how can you ensure that the cherries you’re consuming are safe? One of the best things you can do is to become familiar with the different types of cherries available and their corresponding levels of toxicity. This can help you make informed decisions about which types of cherries to purchase and consume. Additionally, it’s important to properly wash and prepare cherries before consuming them to help minimize any potential risks. By taking these precautions, you can safely enjoy the delicious flavor of cherries without any worries.

Types of Cherries

Cherries are a beloved fruit with a wide variety of uses and culinary applications. They come in several different types, each with its own distinctive taste and texture. Knowing the different types of cherries can help you identify the best cherries for your recipe or taste preference.

  • Sweet Cherries: Also known as dessert cherries, these cherries are the most common type of cherry. They are large and round with a sweet flavor and firm texture. Sweet cherries come in a range of colors, including red, yellow, and dark purple.
  • Sour Cherries: Sour cherries are smaller and softer than sweet cherries with a tart flavor. They are commonly used in baking for pies, tarts, and jams as the sourness pairs well with sugar. Sour cherries are most often red, but can also come in a yellow color.
  • Maraschino Cherries: Maraschino cherries are sweet cherries that have been preserved in a sugary brine. They are typically bright red, and have a distinct almond flavor due to the use of almond extract in the brine. These cherries are common as a garnish on cocktails and desserts.
  • Rainier Cherries: Rainier cherries are a hybrid of sweet cherries, named after Washington’s Mount Rainier. They have a yellow to red blush color, with a sweet and delicate flavor.

In addition to these common cherries, there are also specialty varieties such as the Black Tartarian that is known for its sweetness and the Bing cherry that is used to make dried cherries and cherry juice.

Poisonous plants

It’s important to be aware of which plants and fruits are poisonous, especially when it comes to cherries. While most cherries are safe to eat, there are certain species that may cause harm if consumed.

  • Black cherry: The leaves, twigs, and pits of the black cherry tree contain cyanide, which can be toxic if ingested in large amounts.
  • Chokecherry: Similar to the black cherry, the chokecherry tree contains cyanide in its leaves, twigs, and pits. It’s advised not to consume these parts of the tree.
  • Bitter cherry: As the name suggests, the fruit of the bitter cherry is extremely bitter and can cause gastrointestinal distress if consumed. The seeds also contain small amounts of cyanide and should be avoided.

If you encounter any of these cherry species in the wild, it’s best to avoid consuming any parts of the tree. Additionally, keep an eye out for any other potentially poisonous plants such as poison ivy or hemlock.

Below is a table listing some of the most common poisonous plants:

Plant Toxic Parts Symptoms
Poison ivy Leaves, stems, roots Rash, itching, blistering
Hemlock Leaves, stems, seeds Nausea, vomiting, convulsions
Nightshade Leaves, stems, roots, unripe berries Dilated pupils, confusion, hallucinations

It’s important to research any unfamiliar plants before consuming them, and always err on the side of caution when it comes to identifying potentially toxic species.

Cherry pits and toxicity

Cherry pits, also known as cherry stones, are often consumed unintentionally when eating whole cherries. These pits contain a substance called amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide when ingested. However, the amount of cyanide produced is very small and typically not harmful to humans unless consumed in large quantities.

  • Consuming a few cherry pits may not cause any harm and may even provide some health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain.
  • However, ingesting a large amount of cherry pits may be toxic and cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and difficulty breathing.
  • The risk of toxicity is higher in children and pets, as they may swallow the pits whole and not be able to digest them properly.

If you accidentally swallow a cherry pit, it’s important not to panic. The amount of cyanide produced is typically not harmful, and your body can naturally detoxify small amounts of cyanide. However, if you experience any symptoms of toxicity or have ingested a large amount of cherry pits, seek medical attention immediately.

It’s also important to properly dispose of cherry pits to prevent accidental ingestion. Keep them away from children and pets, and avoid using them as a decorative item or in crafts. Consider composting them instead.

Cherry type Amount of cyanide in pits (mg per gram)
Bitter cherry 3.9-5.6
Sweet cherry 0.33-3.8
Wild cherry 0.5-3.3

It’s also important to note that some cherry varieties, such as bitter cherries, contain higher levels of cyanide than others. The above table shows the amount of cyanide in cherry pits of different types. If you have concerns about the safety of a specific cherry variety, consult with a healthcare professional or a poison control center.

Cherry-related illnesses

While cherries are generally safe to eat, there are some illnesses associated with consuming this fruit, especially if it is not prepared or stored properly. Here are some cherry-related illnesses to be aware of:

  • Food poisoning: Like other fruits and vegetables, cherries can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli. These bacteria can cause food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
  • Cyanide poisoning: Although rare, consuming too many cherry pits can lead to cyanide poisoning. Cherry pits contain amygdalin, which can produce cyanide when metabolized. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include headache, dizziness, confusion, and even coma or death in severe cases.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to cherries, and can develop symptoms like hives, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing after eating them.

If you experience any adverse symptoms after consuming cherries, seek medical attention immediately.

Cherry Poisoning Symptoms

While cherries are generally safe to eat and enjoy in moderation, it is important to be aware that there are certain varieties of cherries that contain poisonous compounds. The most common poisonous cherry is the bitter cherry, which is also known as the wild cherry. If you ingest too many bitter cherries, you may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms.

  • Nausea and vomiting: Consuming too many bitter cherries can cause gastrointestinal distress, which may manifest as feelings of nausea and vomiting. This can be especially dangerous for elderly individuals or those with compromised immune systems.
  • Dizziness and confusion: Bitter cherries contain a compound called amygdalin, which can be converted into cyanide when ingested. Ingesting too much cyanide can cause symptoms such as dizziness and confusion. In severe cases, cyanide poisoning can be fatal.
  • Difficulty breathing: Cyanide poisoning can also cause breathing difficulties, as it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and use oxygen. This can lead to respiratory distress and even respiratory failure.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has ingested too many bitter cherries, it is important to seek medical attention right away. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the amount of cherries ingested, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Beyond bitter cherries, there are a few other types of cherries that can cause mild symptoms if eaten in large quantities. These include black cherries, chokecherries, and red cherries. While these cherries are not considered poisonous, they may cause vomiting or diarrhea if consumed in excess.

Overall, it is important to be cautious when consuming cherries and to moderate your intake to avoid any potential unpleasant or dangerous symptoms.

Cherry Variety Poisonous Compounds
Bitter cherry (wild cherry) Amygdalin (can be converted into cyanide)
Black cherry Cyanogenic compounds (can cause vomiting/diarrhea in large quantities)
Chokecherry Cyanogenic compounds (can cause vomiting/diarrhea in large quantities)
Red cherry Cyanogenic compounds (can cause vomiting/diarrhea in large quantities)

It is important to note that while cherry poisoning is rare, it is still a real risk for those who consume certain varieties of cherries. If you are ever unsure about the safety or edibility of a particular cherry variety, be sure to consult a healthcare professional or do thorough research to ensure your safety.

Safe Cherry Consumption Practices

While cherries are generally safe to consume, there are some precautions you can take to ensure you are not ingesting any harmful substances.


  • Avoid eating wild cherries unless you are confident in your ability to identify them correctly.
  • Only consume cherries that have been properly washed and prepared.
  • Remove the pits before eating, as these often contain small amounts of cyanide.

Signs of Poisoning

If you suspect that you have ingested poisonous cherries, look for the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Loss of consciousness

Cyanide Content in Cherries

While cherries contain small amounts of cyanide in their pits, the flesh of the fruit is not typically dangerous in small quantities. However, it is recommended that you avoid consuming large amounts of cherry pits, as this can lead to cyanide poisoning.

Cherry Type Cyanide Content (per 100 grams)
Sweet Cherry 0.1-3.9 mg
Sour Cherry 0.3-4.5 mg

If you are concerned about the cyanide content in cherries, consider speaking with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist for more information.

Toxicity in other fruits

While cherry poisoning is rare, other fruits contain various toxic compounds that can cause harm to humans if consumed. Here are some examples:

  • Apple seeds: Apple seeds contain a substance called amygdalin, which can break down into cyanide. While a few apple seeds are unlikely to cause harm, consuming large amounts can lead to toxicity.
  • Apricot kernels: Similar to apple seeds, apricot kernels also contain amygdalin and can potentially cause cyanide poisoning if consumed in large quantities.
  • Rhubarb leaves: The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. While the stalk of the plant is safe to eat, the leaves should be avoided.

It’s worth noting that while these fruits contain toxic compounds, the risk of poisoning is typically low if consumed in moderation. However, people with preexisting health conditions or those taking certain medications should be cautious and consult with a healthcare professional before consuming these foods.

Below is a table that outlines the toxic compounds present in some common fruits:

Fruit Toxic Compound
Apples Amygdalin (in seeds)
Apricots Amygdalin (in kernels)
Cherries Cyanide (in seeds)
Grapes and raisins Unknown toxic compound
Peaches Amygdalin (in kernels)
Plums Cyanide (in seeds)
Rhubarb Oxalic acid (in leaves)

Again, it’s important to note that while these fruits contain toxic compounds, they are generally safe to consume in moderation. However, if you have concerns about your health or any symptoms after consuming any of these fruits, seek medical attention immediately.

FAQs: Are there any poisonous cherries?

Q: Is it safe to eat wild cherries?
A: Most wild cherries are safe to eat, but some have poisonous pits that can cause health problems. It is best to identify the species first before consuming them.

Q: Are all cherry pits poisonous?
A: No, not all cherry pits are poisonous. Sweet cherry pits are safe to eat but should be discarded as they can cause choking hazards.

Q: Can cherry leaves be toxic?
A: Yes, cherry leaves and stems contain cyanide and can be poisonous if ingested. This is particularly a concern for livestock.

Q: Is it safe to eat cherry blossoms?
A: Cherry blossoms are edible but are not recommended for consumption as they can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Q: Are black cherries poisonous?
A: Black cherries are safe for consumption, but their pits contain toxic compounds that can lead to health issues if ingested in large amounts.

Q: Can cherry juice be poisonous?
A: Cherry juice is safe to drink in moderate amounts. However, excessive intake can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Q: How can one avoid toxic cherry consumption?
A: The best way to avoid poisoning is to be aware of the different cherry species and their respective toxins. Make sure to discard pits and avoid consuming any plant part other than the fruit.

Closing thoughts

Thank you for reading our article on poisonous cherries. While most cherries are safe to eat, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers present in some species. Take extra care when consuming wild cherries, and always check with a medical professional if you experience any symptoms of poisoning. Visit us again for more informative articles.