[permaculture] Che, eh? Mmmm. Nom nom.
keithdj at mindspring.com
Mon Sep 28 16:29:38 EDT 2009
Che, eh? Mmmm. Nom nom.
An odd fruit, /Cudrania tricuspidata/, is presently (Fri Sept 5, 09)
yielding (finally) beautifully, abundantly and deliciously in my USDA
Zone 6a-b ridge-and-valley landscape in Southern Indiana (a quarter
century ago it used to be Zone 5) in heavy clay and (this year) a wet
season (with a three week drought in late Aug through recently). It
seems to be resistant to pests, the birds have tasted it (must observe
more) and there are at least 200, inch-to-inch-and-a-half, fruits with
about half of them ripe at the moment. About 50 taste testers at recent
party said it reminded them "melon", "mulberry" and "fig" (it is related
to the latter two) and generally enjoyed it. It's six years old, was
transplanted here from W. NC, three years ago, and it lived at least its
first year in a pot. I'd say that indicates sturdiness.My thornless
cultivar is grafted onto an Osage orange seedling. I recommend it
highly. You can buy it (where I did) at Edible Landscape
<http://www.eat-it.com/plants.php?func=view&id=75> in VA. :
Moraceae; Common Names: Che, Chinese Che, Chinese Mulberry, Cudrang,
Mandarin Melon Berry, Silkworm Thorn.
Distant Affinity: Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Jackfruit (A.
heterophyllus), Fig (Ficus spp.), Mulberry (Morus spp.), African
Breadfruit (Treculis africana).
Origin: The che is native to many parts of eastern Asia from the
Shantung and Kiangson Provinces of China to the Nepalese sub-Himalayas.
It became naturalized in Japan many years ago. In China, the leaves of
the che serve as a backup food for silkworms when mulberry leaves are in
short supply. The tree was introduced into England and other parts of
Europe around 1872, and into the U.S. around 1930.
Adaptation: The che requires minimal care and has a tolerance of drought
and poor soils similar to that of the related mulberry. It can be grown
in most parts of California and other parts of the country, withstanding
temperatures of -20° F.
Growth Habit: The deciduous trees can eventually grow to about 25 ft. in
height, but often remains a broad, spreading bush or small tree if not
otherwise trained when they are young. Immature wood is thorny but loses
its thorns as it matures. Female trees are larger and more robust than
Foliage: The alternate leaves resemble those of the mulberry, but are
smaller and thinner and pale yellowish-green in color. The typical form
is distinctly trilobate, with the central lobe sometimes twice as long
as the lateral ones, but frequently unlobed leaves of varied outlines
are also found on the same plant. As the plant grows, the tendency seems
towards larger and entire leaves, with at the most indistinct or
irregular lobing. The general form of the leaves comprise many
variations between oblong and lanceolate. The che leafs and blooms late
in spring--after apples.
Flowers: The che is dioecious, with male and female flowers on different
plants. Appearing in June, both types of flowers are green and
pea-sized. The male flowers turn yellow as the pollen ripens and is
released, while the wind-pollinated female flowers develop many small
stigmas over the surface of the immature fruit. Male plants occasionally
have a few female flowers which will set fruit.
Fruit: Like the related mulberry, the che fruit is not a berry but a
collective fruit, in appearance somewhat like a round mulberry crossed
with a lychee, 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The ripe fruits are an
attractive red or maroon-red color with a juicy, rich red flesh inside
and 3 to 6 small brown seeds per fruit. The flavor is quite unlike the
vinous quality of better mulberries. While still firm they are almost
tasteless, but when fully soft ripe they develop a watermelon-like
flavor that can be quite delicious. The sugar content is similar to that
of a ripe fig. In colder areas with early leaf drop the bright red fruit
are an attractive sight dangling from smooth, leafless branches.
"Be fruitful and mulch apply."
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