Early Richmond has long been the leading Sour Cherry of its season -the first of its kind in the markets. It is not a remarkable variety in its fruit-characters, the cherries being but medium in size, mediocre in quality and not handsomer than other Amarelles with which it belongs. It is, however, a very good culinary fruit and when well ripened may be eaten out of hand with relish by those who like the refreshing acidity of a Sour Cherry. Though not in nearly as great demand for canning as Montmorency it still makes a very good canned product, being used more than it otherwise would be to prolong the canning season because of its earliness. Before cherries were largely canned for the markets, Early Richmond was much used in making dried cherries, the product, rightly cured, making a delicious sweetmeat which would keep for several months. The cherries are remarkable for the tenacity with which the stone clings to the stem. It is the tree in which the Early Richmond particularly surpasses. It thrives in varied soils and climates from the St. Lawrence to the Carolinas and from the Atlantic to the Pacific - possibly the most cosmopolitan of all cherries - and everywhere vigorous, healthy and fruitful. For the many purposes for which it may be used and because of the characters of the tree, Early Richmond is indispensable in every home and commercial orchard for an early cherry. After Montmorency it is more largely grown than any other cherry, Sweet or Sour, in New York.
Early Richmond is the old Kentish of English writers, confused more or less with the different Montmorencies. Whether or not this variety was introduced into Kent, England, by the Romans and became thus early the Kentish or whether it came from Flanders or Holland where it was called Cerise de Volger, is not now certain. Probably, however, it is one of the many seedlings of the Cerise Commune, as are the Montmorencies, and was first known as Cerisier Hatif. Early in the Sixteenth Century the gardener of Henry VIII made extensive plantings in Kent with trees supposed to have come from Flanders, and Parkinson, in 1629, mentions a variety as Flanders which was probably this cherry. The variety, soon known by many English writers as Kentish, was confuscd by the French who seem to have had two Kentish cherries. In English nurseries Kentish was soon confused with Montmorency. In this way the terms Kentish, Flanders, Flemish and Montmorency came into use for this sort. It was early brought to America where it became known as Early Richmond but even here it has several names. The belief that it originated at Richmond, Virginia, was due to the fact that William Prince secured his first trees from that source. By whom the variety was intro duced into this country is unknown, although Thacher speaks of it as early as 1822. In the South it became known as Virginia May, while in the West it has been called Early May. The variety appeared on the fruit list of the American Pomological Society as Kentish in 1862 but in 1871 the name was changed to Early Richmond. It is listed by all prominent nurseries in this country as Richmond or Early Richmond while in England it is still known as Kentish. The French cherry, often spoken of as "the common French cherry,"introduced into the lower St. Lawrence region, is very similar to Early Richmond. This strain, propagated from seed or sprouts, seems to be somewhat hardier than Early Richmond and varies slightly from it in size and quality, Tree of medium size, vigorous, upright-spreading, dense, round-topped, productive; trunk and branches smooth; branches reddish-brown lightly overspread with dull gray, with numerous lenticels; branchlets slender, long, grayish, smooth, with numerous small, inconspicuous lenticels.
Leaves numerous, three and one-half inches long, one and three-fourths inches wide, folded upward, obovate, thick; upper surface dark green, smooth; lower surface pale green; apex variable in shape, base abrupt; margin finely and doubly serrate, glandular, petiole glandless or with one or two globose, greenish-yellow glands at the base of the blade.
Buds small, short, obtuse, very plump, free, arranged singly and in clusters on very short spurs; blooms appearing in mid-season; flowers one and one-fourth inches across, white; borne in scattering clusters, usually in twos and threes; pedicels five-eighths inch long, glabrous; calyx-tube green or faintly tinged with red, obconic, glabrous; calyx-lobes with a trace of red, obtuse, serrate, glabrous within and without, reflexed; petals roundish, entire, sessile, with a shallow, wide notch at the apex; filaments over one-fourth inch long; pistil glabrous, equal to the stamens in length.
Fruit matures early; three-fourths inch in diameter, roundish-oblate, compressed; cavity abrupt, regular; suture indistinct; apex roundish or flattened, with a sligbt depression at the center; color light red changing to dark red; dots numerous, small, russet, inconspicuous; stem slender, one inch long, adherent to the fruit; skin thin, rather tough, separating from the pulp; flesh pale yellow, with light pinkish juice, stringy, tender and melting, sprightly, pleasant flavored; good to very good in quality; stone free, small, roundish-ovate, slightly pointed, with smooth surfaces; somewhat roughened along the ventral suture.
1. Thacher Am. Orch. 217. 1822.
2. Prince Pom. Man. 2:142. 1832. 3. Elliott Fr. Book 194, 195 fig. 1854.
4. Am. Pom. Soc. Cat. 12. 1871. S. Del. Sta. An. Rpt. 12:195 fig., 116.
Flanders. 6. Parkinson Par. Ter. 571. 1629.
Kentish. 7. Miller Gard. Kal- 154, 1734. 8. Truchsess-Heim Kirschensort. 660, 661. 1819. 9. Downing Fr. Trees Am. 196 fig., 197. 1845. 10. Am. Pom. Soc. Cat. 74. 1862. 11. Mas Le Verger 8:25, 26, fig. II. 1866-73.
Cerisier Hatif. 12. Duhamel Trait. Arb. Fr. 1:170, 171, Pl. TV. 1768- 13. Truchsess-Heim Kirschensort. 657, 658, 691. 1819. 14. Poiteau Pom. France. 2: No. 13, P1. 1846. 15. Leroy Dict. Pom. 5:343, 344 fig., 345. 1877.
Cerise de Volger. 16. Knoop Fructologie 2:36, 43. 1771.
Fruehzeitige Amarelle. 17. Truchsess-Heim Kirschensort. 616-618. 1819. 18. Dochnahl Führ. Obstkunde 3:70. 1858.
Early Griotte. 19. Prince Pom. Man. 2: 131, 132. 1832.
French. 20. Quebec Pom. & Fr. Gr. Soc. Rpt. 122, 123. 1906.
[Early Richmond in 'Cherries of Utah']