[NAFEX] Wild Prunus (North American plums and sour cherries) -taste reviews.

Hélène Dessureault interverbis at videotron.ca
Mon Nov 29 10:20:30 EST 2010

In the Gatineau Hills north of Ottawa, we have Prunus pensylvanica (pin 
cherry) and Prunus virginiana (choke cherry) growing wild. They both grow 
well in sandy acidic soil and need to be controled as they both spread 
extensively through the roots as well as through seeds which the birds 
spread all over.
In my observation here,  pin cherry is the worst of the two when it comes to 
being affected by black knot.
Generally, pin cherry is tall and thin in appearance, bearing small bright 
red cherries with yellow orange acidic flesh and a relatively big pit on 
individual stems ripening in July...
Choke cherry is a big bush size tree, bearing red purple cherries with 
yellow orange flesh with a distinctive mouth puckering tannic taste growing 
in a cluster ripening at the beginning of September... Here, the choke 
cherries are larger than the pin cherries, even though the former is a 
cluster and the later is an individual fruit. Pin cherry is a short live 
tree which spreads, and here it is often affected by a big black knot which 
can ooze an orangey jelly, quite disgusting. Luckily, the black knot is 
usually low and can be treated with an organic fungicide to some extent.

I have never used pin cherries in cooking (they are small and difficult to 
reach to pick in quantity), but I often make choke cherry jelly and a less 
sweet choke cherry concentrate to make sauces to accompany meat dishes, 
which replaces quite nicely the red wine in sauce.

I have Hansen cherries (developed Saskatchewan breeding station) which 
behaves as choke cherry in growing habit (a bush which spreads by the roots 
extensively) with the cherries more like a very large pin cherry in 
appearance (more sweet though). My Hansen is also sensitive to black knot 
which I control somewhat by spraying with a sulfur base fungicide. My Hansen 
spread so fast that I am about to start a row, just by transplanting the off 
shoots. I quite like the taste.

Hélène, zone 3-4, with snow on the ground.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Claude Jolicoeur" <cjoli at gmc.ulaval.ca>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 11:49 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Wild Prunus (North American plums and sour 
cherries) -taste reviews.

A 02:24 10.11.27 -0500, vous avez écrit :
Also, on the topic of sour cherries, anyone try (out-of-hand or in
preparations) Prunus pensylvanica (pin cherry; fire cherry)?  How does it
compare to Prunus virginiana (choke cherry) - I'm pretty sure that it is
more x-knot resistant then the later.  Any advantages to this fruit, even
if subtle, over just planting a typical Eurasian sour cherry: P. cerasus?
As for non-native sour cherries (really plums), I don't have a lot of good
things to say for P. tomentosa, P. jacquemonti (sic?), and some others -
although the later dried is pretty ok.  Just rather be conventional here
and go with a traditional P. cerasus.  But I'm looking forward to trying P.
pensylvanica - then P. virginiana (which I'd never grow since I don't want
to start an outbreak of x-knot for my cherry trees or the neighborhood
cherries the same.)

Here in Quebec, both P.pennsylvanica and virginiana grow wild around my
orchard and on my property and are everywhere. Both get the black knot but
don't seem overly affected by it.
Fruit from both species are about the same size and none have much flesh.

virginiana: ripens september, color very dark, almost black, very
astringent, small tree. Bears and racoons eat them.

pennsylvanica: ripens early - end July to mid August here, bright red
color, less astringent but more acid, gets to be a fairly high tree (50 ft
and over). Mostly for birds as the fruit is too high to pick.

Honestly, I don't enjoy eating any of them...


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