Many people love wild cherry trees because of the beautiful white and pink blossoms that show their colors during spring. While these trees are aesthetically pleasing and can add a nice splash of color to a pasture, they can present a grave danger to livestock.
Growing up on a farm, I was always told to be on the lookout for wild cherry trees when walking through the pastures. Once we learned just how deadly they could be to our cattle and horses, we took the time to remove all of the trees from our 40 acres of wooded land.
The danger with wild cherry trees lies within the leaves and, in some species, the bark. More specifically, the leaves are only toxic to livestock if they are wilting. It is recommended that you research the species and speak to a veterinarian to learn about the dangers specific to your area.
The leaves of wild cherry trees naturally produce cyanide when they are wilted. When the leaves are alive and healthy, the two components that combine to produce the cyanide are kept separate, but when the leaves are broken down or wilting, the components combine, and cyanide is produced.