Black Republican Cherry TreePrunus avium Black Republican
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Prunus avium Black Republican
Outdoor Growing zone
The Black Republican Cherry Tree produces a big crop of beautiful and delicious cherries within a few years of planting. They are medium-sized, with a dark red skin that is almost purple. The red flesh is sweet and juicy, totally packed with delicious flavor, and ideal for eating fresh, baking or preserves. Big harvests of well over 50 pounds can be taken from established trees, and you will have fresh cherries throughout July. With attractive mahogany-brown bark and pure-white spring blossoms, it’s a lovely tree for your garden, and doesn’t need to be hidden away in a field. In smaller gardens it can be successfully grown spread out on a wall or fence as an espalier.
Grow your Black Republican Cherry Tree in full sun, or with no more than a couple of hours of shade each day. It will grow in almost any well-drained soil, preferring neutral to acidic loams. Pests and disease problems are usually minor, and cherries are relatively easy to grow. Prune in late winter. Should be grown with another variety of sweet cherry – almost any variety will work fine.
There is no doubt about it, home-grown fruit always tastes better than from the store. There is the great satisfaction that comes from growing your own food, and the knowledge of exactly what was – or wasn’t – put into it while it was growing. As well, growing your own allows you to enjoy unique and special heirloom varieties that are otherwise unobtainable, and they for sure always taste way better. Once you pop a ‘Black Republican’ cherry into your mouth you will understand all this completely – once you start savoring the delicious, juicy flavors and sweetness of this fabulous cherry. The deep color is so appealing, and the intensity of flavors will blow you away. Cherry trees are handsome too, and fit perfectly into a landscaped garden, so there is no need for a home orchard or anything fancy. Just plant it on your lawn, and in a couple of years you will be out in July with your basket, harvesting your very own sweet, sweet cherries.
The Black Republican Cherry Tree is a small deciduous tree that grows to 15 feet tall, and can reach 20 feet. It is almost as wide as tall, with a rounded crown when mature. The handsome bark is glossy and mahogany-brown to purple-brown when young. It has prominent horizontal bands of lighter gray-brown across it, giving it a very distinctive and attractive appearance. Older stems become more rugged and darker brown. The simple leaves are rounded and graceful, tapering to an elegant point, with serrated edges. About 4 inches long, they are softly glossy and dark green, turning golden yellows and oranges, sometimes with red tones, in fall.
In early to late April, depending on your climate, the flowers open, on bare branches, along with the first hint of leaves. The pure white flowers are typically in pairs, but can be in larger clusters of up to 6 blooms. Roughly an inch across, the open bowl of 5 petals surrounding a cluster of golden stamens is about as simple as a flower can be, but definitely charming, and a tree in bloom is worthy of a place in any ornamental garden. For a successful crop you need a second variety of sweet cherry growing within about 50 feet, and fortunately the Black Republican Cherry Tree is easily pollinated by many other varieties, as well as being a good pollinizer for others. We suggest the ‘Stella’ cherry tree, but as well you could use Napoleon, Bing, Van, and most other varieties of sweet cherry. We don’t recommend sour cherry trees as pollinizers for sweet ones.
Those baby cherries soon start growing, and by July your tree will look amazing, decorated with dense clusters of hanging red cherries. It’s harvest time. The ripe cherries are dark red, so dark they are almost purple. They are medium-sized, with dark red juicy flesh, and ripen over several weeks. They are ripe and ready to eat by late July, and continue through August. The intensity of flavor of these cherries is amazing, and really brings back what a sweet cherry should taste like. It also means they are fabulous for baking and preserves, rich in that classic ‘cherry’ taste. Your tree will yield upwards of 50 pounds of fruit once it has matured, and considerably more under ideal conditions.
The beauty of the bark, and the purity and charm of the white blooms, make this tree a great addition to your flower garden – you don’t need an orchard to hide it away in. As well, cherries are excellent for training on walls or tall fences in different espalier styles. A simple fan, or something more complex, this way of growing is lots of fun, and also means your tree takes up almost no room, fitting into the smallest garden, and yet still produces a good harvest.
Hardy from zone 5 into zone 9, the Black Republican Cherry Tree will grow almost anywhere. The best growth is seen in regions with cool but not cold winters, and sunny summers that are not extremely hot and dry.
Full sun is best, but an hour or two of shade will do no harm to your Black Republican Cherry Tree. Neutral to acidic soils that are rich and moist, but well-drained, give the best results. Although drought-resistant, occasional watering if necessary is best, especially during the period the cherries are growing.
You won’t find too many pest or disease problems with this tree, as cherry trees are not as difficult as many other fruit trees can be. Prune in late winter as needed, keeping the crown open and free of crowded branches. Shorten back side shoots to encourage more blooming in the following year. Once your tree is established, remove a couple of older branches every year or two, and replace them with vigorous new shoots.
Originally found all over Europe, from England to Turkey, the sweet cherry, Prunus avium, has been grown for centuries, with the best plants selected and spread around. In America, Oregon was one of the last areas settled, and pioneers went to the Willamette Valley before there was even a state. Among them were Seth and Henderson Luelling, and their brother John. Arriving around 1847, the brothers brought with them hundreds of fruit trees growing in wooden boxes. Seth changed his name later to Lewelling, perhaps closer to the original Welsh Llywelyn, and became one of the state’s most important fruit growers and breeders. Among many other new plants, he created the well-known Bing cherry. The brothers were ardent Abolitionists and help found the Republican party, when it was anti-slavery, and that is why he called his new cherry Black Republican. It is probably a cross between the French ‘Napoleon’ (also called Queen Ann) and the English Black Tartarian.
It is always worth choosing heirloom varieties over those that can be found in the stores, and when they are as delicious and beautiful as the Black Republican Cherry Tree, it really is a worthwhile choice. From having been widely grown, this cherry is today rare and even endangered, so take this rare opportunity to plant one. Don’t hesitate, the demand is high and the supply very limited.