Prunus CERASUS  Linnaeus.                                           The "PIE" or "SOUR" CHERRY               HOME

Synonyms in old literature:                          Characteristics of the species
1. Linnaeus Spec. Pl. 474. 1753.
P. austera. 2. Ehrhart Beitr. 5:160. 1790.
P. acida. 3. Ehrhart 1. c. 1790.
P. aestiva. 4. Salisbury Prodr. 356. 1796.
P. plena. 5. Poiret, in Lamarck Enc. Meth. Bot. 5:671. 1804.
P. rosea. 6. Poiret, in Lamarck 1. c. 1804.
P. Juliana. 7. Reichenbach Fl. Germ. Exc. 643. 1832, not Poiret in Lamarck, 1805. pie cherry flowers
P. hortensis. 8. Persoon Syn. Pl. 2:34. 1807.
P. Marasca. 9. Reichenbach Fl. Germ. Exc. 644. 1832.
P. oxycarpa. 10. Bechstein Forst. Bet. 5:424. 1843.
P. vulgaris. 11. Schur Enum. P1. Transsilv. 954. 1866.
Cerasus vulgaris. 12. Miller Gard. Dict. ed. 8: No. 1. 1768.
C. hortenses. 13. Miller 1. C. No. 3. 1768.
C. acida. 14. Borkhausen, in Roemer Arch. Bot. 1: II, 38. 1796.
C. austera. 15. Borkhausen, in Roemer 1. c. 1796.
C. Caproniana. 16. De Candolle Fl. Fran. ed. 3, 4: 842. 1805.
C. nicotianaefolia. 17. Hort. ex De Candolle Prodr. 2:536. 1825.
C. bigarella. 18. Dumortier Fl. Belg. 91. 1827.
C. effusa. 19. Host Fl. Austr. 2:6. 18-31.
C. Marasca. 20. HOST l. C. 1831.
C. Bungei. 21. Walpers Rep. 2:9. 1843.
C. Heaumiana. 22. Roemer Syn. Rosifl. 69. 1847.
C. tridentina. 23. Roerner l. c. 76. 1847.
C. Rhexii. 24. Hort. Gall. ex Van Houtte Fl. Serres, ser. 2, 7:159. 1868.
C. cucullata. 25. Hort. ex Koch Dedral. 1:6. 1869.

Tree low, reaching a height of twenty to thirty feet, diffuse, open-headed, round- topped or spreading, often without a central leader; trunk at maturity a foot in diameter; bark reddish-brown overlaid with ashy-gray, smooth or sometimes roughened; branches spreading, slender and more or less drooping; branchlets slender and willowy, glabrous, reddish-brown becoming darker and overspread with ashy-gray; lenticels small, numerous, conspicuous, raised.

Leaves resinous at opening, more or less erect, very numerous, three to four inches long and from one-half to two inches wide, obovate to oval, folded tipward, thick and firm in texture; upper surface dark green, smooth, the lower surface paler green, with more or less pubescence; apex taper-pointed or acute, base abrupt or acute; margins finely serrate, often doubly so, teeth tipped with small, dark glands; petioles from a half-inch to two inches long, slender, grooved, with a few hairs on the upper surface, tinged with red; glands from one to four, usually small, variously colored, globose or reniform, usually at the base of the blade; stipules small, lanceolate, narrow, finely serrate, early caducous.

Winter-buds small, short, obtuse or pointed, plump and free, arranged singly or in clusters; leaf-scars usually prominent; flowers appearing with or after the leaves, showy, an inch across, white; borne in dense or scattered, very scaly clusters and in twos, threes and fours on one-year-old wood; pedicels from a half to an inch and a half in length, slender, green and glabrous; calyx-tube obconic, glabrous, green or tinged with red; calyx-lobes broadly obtuse or acute, glabrous on both surfaces, reflexed, margin serrate, faintly red; petals white, roundish or oval to obovate, entire or crenate, sessile or nearly so; stamens about thirty, filaments one-fourth of an inch in length; anthers yellow; pistils about as long as the stamens, glabrous.

Fruit roundish-oblate or cordate, sides slightly compressed, about three-fourths of an inch in diameter; suture lacking or indistinct; cavity well marked, usually abrupt; apex usually depressed; color from light to dark red; dots numerous, small, russet, more or less conspicuous; stem slender, from a half-inch to two inches in length, glabrous, with- out bloom; skin usually separating readily from the pulp; flesh dark red, with dark colored juice or pale yellow with colorless juice, tender, melting, sprightly, more or less acidulous, sometimes astringent; stone free or more or less clinging, roundish, pointed or blunt, smooth, less than a half inch in diameter; ventral suture usually ridged, sometimes smooth.

The numerous synonyms of Prunus cerasus indicate the state of confusion which prevails in the scientific nomenclature of the Sour Cherry. Yet the names given are scarcely a tithe of those that have been discarded or superseded for a whole or a part of this species by botanists. Happily, there is no language in which there is a possibility of confusing the Sour Cherry with the other two or three species of cultivated cherries if the common names be used. That men, learned or unlearned, speaking in their mother tongues distinguish species of cherries so readily by their common names, is ample excuse for not attempting to give in a pomological work all of the Latin names of the Sour Cherry that have been used by the many men who have at one time or another attempted to classify the plants in Prunus, Those here published are from botanists who have contributed most to the knowledge of the species.

Prunus cerasus is the Sour Cherry, or Pie Cherry, of many languages - grown and esteemed in temperate climates the world over and probably the most widely distributed of all tree fruits. The species is found truly wild, as we have set forth in detail in the following chapter, in south- western Asia and southeastern Europe, It is a frequent escape from cultivation, multiplying from seed distributed by birds or human agencies or growing from suckers which spring so freely from the roots as to make the species unfit for a stock in orchard work. The number of cultivated varieties of Prunus cerasus listed in The Cherries of New York is 270. Sour Cherries cultivated for their fruits constitute two distinct groups, each of which is again divided into many varieties. The two groups vary more or less in both tree and fruit but have a constant difference only in a single, very easily distinguished character - the juice in the fruits of one is red, in the other it is colorless.

The cherries with colorless juice are the Amarelles, from the Latin for bitter, a term probably first used by the Germans but now in general use wherever these cherries are grown, though the English often designate them as Kentish cherries and the French as Cerisier Commun. These Amarelles are pale red fruits, more or less flattened at the ends. Despite the derivation of the name Amarelle, they have less bitterness than the other group of varieties of the Sour Cherry. They are also less acid than the darker colored cherries and are therefore more suitable for eating out of hand while the dark colored cherries are almost exclusively culinary fruits. The common representatives of this group are Early Richmond, Montmorency and the various cherries to which the word Amarelle is affixed, as the King Amarelle and the Späte Amarelle.

The second group, varieties with reddish juice and usually with very dark fruits which are more spherical or cordate in shape than the Amarelles, comprises the Morellos of several languages or the Griottes of the French. The first of these terms has reference to the color, the word Morello coming from the Italian meaning blackish while Griotte, from the French, probably is derived through agriotte from aigre, meaning sharp, in reference to the acidity of these cherries. Weichsel is the German group name for these cherries, rather less commonly used than the other two terms. The trees of the Morello-like varieties are usually smaller, bushier and more compact than those of the Amarelles. The branches, as a rule, are more horizontal, often drooping, are less regularly arranged and are more slender. The leaves, in typical varieties, are smaller, thinner, a darker green and are pendant while those of the Amarelles are either inclined to be upright or horizontal; the leaves are also toothed less deeply and more regularly. These differences in the leaves are well shown in the color-plates of the varieties of the two groups. There are differences, also, in the inflorescence and the floral organs in the extreme types but these disappear in the varieties that connect the two forms. The typical varieties of this group are English Morello, Ostheim, Olivet, Brusseler Braune, Vladimir and Riga.

Attempts to give precise distinctions between the fruits and trees of the two groups fail because the varieties constituting them hybridize freely making it impossible, with the more or less blended characters, to classify accurately. The group name indicates but little more than whether the cherries have a colored or a colorless juice - a distinction well worth while for the fruit-grower.

Ehrhart called Sour Cherries with colorless juice Prunus acida and those with dark colored juice Prunus austera. To some extent botanists have followed Ehrhart's designations. Linnaeus thought the two groups sufficiently distinct to be botanical varieties of the species and denominated the cherry with colorless juice Prunus cerasus caproniana and the one with colored juice Prunus cerasus austera.

A third division of the species is the Marasca cherry from which is made maraschino, a distilled liqueur much used in Europe as a drink and in Europe and America in the manufacture of maraschino cherries. The Marasca cherry is a native of the province of Dalmatia, Austria, where the trees grow wild and are now sparingly cultivated. In 1831 Host gave this form the name Cerasus marasca and a year later Reichenbach described it as Prunus marasca. Botanists now very generally include it in the species under discussion and Schneider makes it a botanical variety, Prunuscerasus marasca, a disposition which we believe to be the best. The Marasca cherries differ from the other cultivated forms chiefly in the greater vigor of the trees, relatively finer serrations of the leaves, longer stipules and a more compact inflorescence. The fruits are much smaller than in the common Sour Cherries, are deep red or almost black in color and have intensely red flesh and juice. The cherries are very acid with a bitter taste that gives flavor to the maraschino made from them.

Besides these divisions of the species cultivated for their fruits botanists describe several botanical forms which either have no horticultural value or are cultivated exclusively as ornamentals. It is not necessary to discuss these in a pomological work. Of these botanical derivatives of Prunuscerasus, Schneider enumerates nine and three hybrids between this and other species.

Schneider,C.K. Handb.Laubh. 1:615. 1906.
1Schneider, C.  K.  Handb.  Laubh.  1: 1906; 2: l912.