Early Purple is a valuable cherry on account of its earliness, its attractive color and high quality. The trees bear well and regularly after having become established in the orchard. The variety has the reputation of being a poor grower in the nursery and as a young tree in the orchard but with age it takes on vigor and at all times is as healthy as those of any Sweet Cherry. More than most cherries, this variety responds to good care and a choice cherry soil a warm, free-working loam being best. A rather unusual and serious defect of this variety is that the fruit-spurs are easily broken during picking and the crop of the next season thereby cut short. Another fault is that it is the favorite food of the robin where this, the worst of all cherry pests, abounds. The cherries of this variety do not attain their rich purple color until full maturity is reached. Hogg, the English pomologist, maintains that Early Purple does better on the Mahaleb than on the Mazzard stock. No home collection should be without this variety and it can often be profitably grown as an early cherry for the local market.
Early Purple is the Early Purple Guigne of most fruit-books, the name having been shortened by the American Pomological Society, though, since the variety goes back to the Early Purple of Ray in 1688, the name here used has the right of precedence. As to what the origin and history of the variety were before Ray mentioned it, we can find no record. Early Purple was brought to America over a hundred years ago. According to Elliott, eastern growers received it directly from England, while in the West it was brought over by a party of German emigrants, under the name "German May Duke "and as such it is still much grown in localities in the Central West. In 1852, the American Pomological Society listed Early Purple as one of the promising new fruits and later, in 1856, it was given a place, which it has since retained, on the Society's catalog of fruits recommended for general cultivation.
Tree large, vigorous, upright-spreading, open-topped, very productive; trunk thick, smooth; branches smooth, reddish-brown partly covered with ash-gray, with large lenticels; branchlets short, brown partly covered with ash-gray, roughened, with a few small, inconspicuous lenticels,
Leaves numerous, four inches long, one and three-fourths inches wide, folded upward, oval to obovate, thin; upper surface dark green, rugose; lower surface light green, very lightly pubescent; apex and base acute; margin finely serrate, with small, dark colored glands; petiole one and three-fourths inches long, slender, tinged with red, with few hairs, with two or three small, globose, reddish glands on ttle stalk.
Buds variable in size and shape, rather long, plump, free, arranged singly as lateral buds and in small clusters on spurs variable in length; season of bloom early; flower white, one and one-fourth inches across; borne in scattering clusters, usually in twos; pedicels characteristically long, often one and one-fourth inches, slender, glabrous; calyx- tube with a faint tinge of red, campanulate; calyx lobes tinged with red, long, acute, serrate, glabrous within and without, reflexed; petals broadly oval, serrate, with short, blunt claws and a shallow, notched apex; filaments one-fourth inch long; pistil glabrous, shorter than the stamens.
Fruit matures very early; one inch in diaineter, cordate, slightly compressed; cavity regular; suture a faint line; apex pointed; color purplish-black; dots numerous, small, grayish, obscure; stem tinged with red, slender, nearly two inches long, adhering to the fruit; skin thin, tender, separating readily from the pulp; flesh dark reddish-purple, with dark colored juice, tender, melting, mild, sweet; of very good quality; stone free except along the ventral suture, rather large, broadly oval, compressed near the apex, with smooth surfaces.
1. Am. Pom. Soc. Cat. 26. 1909.
Purple Cherry. 2. Ray Illust. Plant. 1540. 1688.
Early Purple Guigne. 3. Cultivator N. S. 4:280 fig. 2. 1847. 4. Hovey Fr. Am. 1:93,94, P1. 1851. 5. Am. Pom. Soc. Rpt- 55, 1852. 6. Am. Pom. Soc. Cat. 211. 1856- 7. Mas Le Verger 8:129, 130, fig. 63. 1866-73. 8. Mortillet Le Cerisier 2:57 flg. 3, 58, 59. 1866. 9. Horticulturist 25:71 fig. 1870. 10. Leroy Dict. Pom. 5:334, 3.35 fig., 336. 1877. 11. Hogg Fruit Man. 295. 1884. 12. Guide Prat. 6, 193. 1895.
Purple Guigne. 13. Elliott Fr. Book 19.5 fig. 1854.
[Early Purple in 'Cherries of Utah']