One of the exciting new edibles I’ve added to my collection is the University of Saskatchewan’s Bush Cherry. They’ve crossed a Sour Cherry with a Mongolian Cherry and have come up with a variety of new smaller, very hardy tart-sweet bush cherries.
Photo Courtesy: GoodFruit.Com
Now hybridizing is not new, and it is not genetic modification. It is a patience and time eating task involving pollinating the flower of one cherry cultivar or variety with the flower of another cherry variety and then planting the seeds of those cherries and waiting to see how they fruit and then testing hardiness and growth habit. Cross pollination occurs in nature…in fact, that is how we can come up with 7000 plus apple varieties.
So the University of Saskatchewan has come up with a smaller bushier hardy cherry like its Mongolian relative (prunus fruiticosa) with all the tartness of a Montmorency pie cherry and all the sugars of a Bing. Well done U of Sask!
They are relatively trouble free shrubs which thrive in full sun (or at least 6 hours of it to produce the best sugars) in an average well drained soil. They can be planted in containers. They are said to be self fruitful though most likely benefit from having a second different variety around.
They have white single blossoms in the spring and fruit in July. The longer the cherries hang on the shrubs, the higher the brix, or sugar. The cherries will not drop like a Bing, they will hang on the shrub and will even dry if you leave them long enough. These cherries are great fresh and fantastic dried or in pies or preserves. They are high in vitamin C and Vitamin A as well as anthocyanins which help to reduce inflammation. The smaller shrub size makes it less attractive to the birds and easier to net if needed. There are several notable varieties each with its one unique characteristics.
|Carmine Jewel Dwarf Cherry
||Crimson Passion Dwarf Cherry
|Cupid Dwarf Cherry
||Juliet Dwarf Cherry
|Romeo Dwarf Cherry
||Valentine Dwarf Cherry
Photos Courtesy: University of Saskatchewan
Carmine Jewel – Zone 2-8. This shrub produces almost black red berries in mid- July. They are great in pies, preserves, juices and dried. It is a tarter cherry but many do love it fresh. It is the earliest producer.
Crimson Passion – Zone3-8. This shrub produces dark red berries late July early August. It is the sweetest of all bush cherries with a whopping 22brix. Crimson Passion does not sucker and is a slower grower very well suited to pot culture.
Romeo – Zones 3-8. Romeo produces a dark black red sweet/sour cherry. It is one of the largest and best for producing juice. It is later than Carmine Jewel. It is great for fresh eating as well.
Juliet – Zones 2-8. Juliet produces a dark red cherry. Very good for eating fresh out of hand as well as for making pies, juice and jams. It had very high sugars and is a very productive bush. The pits are large enough to use a crank pit remover if you are making pies.
Valentine – Zones 2-8. Valentine produces a scarlet red tart cherry. The red colour holds in pies and no dye is necessary. It is also great in juice. It is very productive.
Cupid – Zones 2-8. Cupid produces the largest of the cherries and blooms 1 week later than the others. It has great balanced sweet tart flavour for fresh eating, jams and juicing.
I have a number of these in my yard and have had the chance to taste a cherry or two from the bushes. They have a tangy flavour that I adore. I look forward to them producing more and comparing the flavours. This is very exciting for me because I don’t really have space for a larger cherry tree.
More information about the Dwarf Cherry Program is available from:
We have limited stock available from last year (older plants), but a number of varieties have been potted at Art's Nursery and they should be ready for sale by June. You can put your name on our customer request list (call 604.882.1201) and we will contact you as soon as the little guys are ready for their new homes!