Wilted Cherry Leaves Kill

It is widely known that, to cows, wilted cherry leaves are deadly poisonous. Every cattle farmer is well acquainted with this fact. Yet, I, as a chemist, for years have wondered why. Surely it has to be a matter of chemistry, I realized. Indeed, that is the case. Cherry Fruits Wild cherries are bitter, but to the aficionado (and I am one), the tiny fruits called wild cherries, are quite delicious, especially when made into the intensely-flavored wild cherry jelly. Curiously, these fruits contain substances that could be quite dangerous, except for the lack of substances called enzymes that would convert them into poisons. One of those chemicals is amygdalin, seen in the image below. Note—in the upper right-hand corner of the molecule—are two atoms. One of the atoms is…
Read More