MAY DUKE                     HOME

Prunus avium X Prunus cerasussmall picture 'May Duke'

May Duke is one of the oldest and, the world over, one of the most popular cherries. There are several reasons why it has attained and holds its popularity. It is finely flavored, especially when prepared for the table, and even before ripe; it is also delicious to eat out of hand if the cherryes are dead ripe, when it is one of the best of the subacid cherries; while one of the earliest of its class, it may be left to hang for a month or six weeks, becoming daily sweeter and more aromatic; few or no cherries thrive in greater variations of soil and climates, this fact accounting in greatest measure for its world-wide distribution in temperate regions; despite its tender flesh, it ships well though it is grown only for local markets since its long period of ripening makes necessary several pickings - a fatal defect for a canning cherry or one for the general trade; lastly, the trees are as fruitful as any, and are hardy, vigorous and healthy. The fruit is remarkably well distributed in dense clusters on trees characteristically upright and vasiform and bearing a heavy canopy of dark green, luxuriant foliage. May Duke fills a particular place in the cherry orchard as a fruit for the local market and hundreds of new-comers have not been able to supplant it. The fact that it has lost none of its pristine vigor, health and produc tiveness in the two hundred and more years it has been known contradicts the idea that varieties of fruit degenerate or wear out with age. When we pass in review all of the varieties of cherries, all characters and purposes considered, May Duke remains one of the best.

This variety seems to have been first mentioned by Ray in 1688. May Duke is supposed by some English writers to have originated in a district in France known as Medoc and the name to have been derived from the place. When this cherry first received attention, the old style of reckoning time was in vogue and the 11th of June was the last day of May. It may, therefore, be presumed that the variety derived its name from its season of ripening rather than from a corruption of Medoc. A few years ago Professor J.L. Budd of Iowa imported from Russia several cherries among which was one called Esel Kirsche. Later this cherry was distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture. As grown on the grounds of this Station, Esel Kirsche has proved to be May Duke. In Ohio the two could not be distinguished and with this evidence we have listed Esel Kirsche as a synonym of May Duke. In 1832, William Prince mentioned May Duke as being among the first of the cherries introduced to America from Europe. From the references to this variety in the horticultural literature and in the nursery catalogs throughout the United States we may say that it is one of the most widely distributed and best known cherries in the country. The American Pomological Society placed May Duke on its fruit catalog list in 1848.

Tree large, upright becoming somewhat vasiform and spreading with age, open topped, very productive; trunk of mediurn thiclmess, somewhat shaggy; branches smooth or roughish, reddish-brown partly covered with ash-gray, with numerous lenticels variable in size; branchlets short, brown partly covered with light gray, smooth, with small, inconspicuous, raised lenticels.

Leaves numerous, three and one-half inches long, two inches wide, folded upward, obovate; upper surface very dark green, rugose; lower surface thinly pubesoent; apex abruptly pointed, base acute; margin finely serrate, with small, dark glands-; petiole one inch long, slender, tinged with red, grooved, glandless or with one or two small, globose, brownish glands, usually at the base of the blade.

Buds obtuse, plump, free, in large clusters on short spurs; leaf-scars prominent; season of bloom intermediate; flowers white, one and one-fourth inches across; borne in dense clusters, in twos and threes; pedicels one inch long, slender, glabrous, greenish; calyx tube with a tinge of red, obconic, glabrous; calyx-lobes with a trace of red, rather long, narrow, acuminate, glabrous within and without, reflexed; petals broad-oval, entire, nearlv sessile; apex crenate; filaments one-fourth inch long; pistil glabrous, equal to the stamens in length.

Fruit matures early, although variable in habit; three-fourths of an inch in diameter, cordate to conical, compressed; cavity abrupt, regular; suture indistinct; apex roundish, with a small depression at the center; color light changing to dark red at full maturity; dots numerous, russet, obscure; stem slender, one and one-half inches long, adhering strongly to the fruit; slcin thin, tender, separating from the pulp; flesh medium to dark red, with pinkish juice, tender and melting, sprightly subacid, pleasant flavored; of very good quality; stone nearly free, small, roundish to elliptical with smooth surfaces; slightly ridged along the ventral suture.

1.Bradley Gard. 211 1739. 2.DuhamelTrait.Arb.Fr.1:194 1768. 3-Prince Pom. Man.2:133, 134 1832. 4.Gard.Chron.57 1843. 5. Cultivator N.S. 2:319fig. 93 1845. 6. Downing Fr.Trees Am.191,192fig.81. 1845. 7.Bridgeman Gard.Ass't Pl. 3:53,54 1847 8. Proc.Nat.Con. Fr.Gr. 52. 1848 9. ElliottFr.Book2ll. 1854. 10.MclntoshBk.Gard.2:542,543 1855. 11.Mas Le Verger 8:133, 134,fig.65 1866-73. 12.HoggFruitMan.305,306. 1884 13.GuidePrat.8,195, 196. 1895.

Duke Cherry. 14. Ray Hist. Plant. 2:1540. 1688.

May Cherry. 15. Miller Gard. Dict- 1:1754. 16. Mortillet Le Cerisier 2.138-140, fig. 33. 1866.

Rothe Maikirsche. 17. Christ Handb. 669. 1797. 18. Christ Wörterb. 282. 1802. 19. Truchsess- Heim Kirschensort- 377-389. 1819. 20. Ill. Handb. 151 fig., 152. 1860. 21. Mas Le Verger 8:135, 136, fig. 66. 1866-73. 22. Lauche Dent. Pom. III: No. 16, P1. 1882. 23. Mathieu Nom. Pom. 374. 1889.

Royal Hâtive. 24. Poiteau Pom. Franc. 2: Nos. 23, 24, P1. 1846. 25. Pom. France 7: No. 4, P1. 4. 1871. 26. Leroy Dict. Pom. 5:389 fig., 390, 391. 1877.

Royale Cherry Duke. 27. Mas Pom. Gen. 11:127, 128, fig. 64. 1882.

Esel Kirsche. 28. Ohio Hort. Soc. Rpt. 22. 1892-93.

Anglaise Hâtive. 29. Soc. Nat. Hort. France POm. 78 fig., 79, 1904.

[May Duke in 'Cherries of Utah']