As the only cultivated representative of the European Dwarf Cherry, Early May should be of especial interest to cherry-growers. It is a true dwarf variety, the trees seldom attaining a height of more than six or seven feet. Both tree and branches are very flexible so that Early May is well adapted to the wall-training of European countries. It has further value in its earliness, being the earliest of all cherries. It is doubtful whether the variety can now be obtained in America but it ought to be reintroduced both for the fruit and because it is a handsome ornamental. Early May has several characters to recommend it to plant-breeders. The description herewith given is compiled from European fruit-books.
Pliny in his Natural History mentions the Macedonian and the Chamaecerasus cherries, both of which we now believe to have been Prunus fruticosa, the European Dwarf Cherry. Early May, according to European botanists, is a variety of this dwarf species and may be the identical cherry that Pliny described. Following Pliny it was mentioned by Estienne, a Frenchman, in 1540, by Knoop, the Dutch pomologist, in 1771, by Parkinson, the English herbalist, in 1629, and, as the references show, by most pomologists since. The names May and Early May have been applied to several varieties, and especially in the West to the Early Richmond but all are distinct and ought not to be confused with this, the true variety,
Tree very small, rather weak; branches numerous, slender, somewhat curved, flexible, branchlets slender, pendant; leaves abundant, very small, obovate or oblong, acuminate; margin irregularly and deeply serrate; petiole short, slender, without glands; blooming season very early; flowers small; petals oval.
Fruit matures very early, usually attached in pairs; small, roundish, slightly flattened; suture indistinct; color bright red becoming dark red at full maturity; stem one inch long, slender, set in a small, regular cavity; skin thin; flesh yellowish-white, sometimes tinged red under the skin, tender, juicy, brisk but pleasant subacid; quality fair; stone very small, roundish.
1. Langley Pomona 86, P1. 17 fig. 2. 1729. 2. Prince
Pom. Man. 2:131. 1832. 3. Downing Fr. Trees Am. 479. 1869. 4. Hogg
Fruit Man. 295. 1884.
May. 5. Parkinson Par. Ter. 571. 1629.
Cerisier Nain a Fruit Rond Precoce. 6. Duhamel Trait. Arb. Fr. 1:168, 169, 170, P1. III. 1768.
Fruehe Zwergweichsel. 7. Truchsess-Heim Kirschensort. 492-498. 1819. 8. Mathieu Nom. Pom. 349, 350, 372. 1889.
Amarell-Weichsel. 9. Dochnahl Führ. Obstkunde 3:57, 58. 1858 Précoce de Montreuit. 10. Mas Le Verger 8:141, 14.2, fig. 69. 1866-73.
Griottier Nain Precoce. 11. Leroy Dict. Pom. 5:293 fig., 294. 1877.