Ditto what castanea said…
I have a friend on the MS/LA line who’s seen Che on its own roots… said it made an impenetrable thorny suckering thicket that you’d have to have a bulldozer to get through. Makes me think that it’s best to keep it as a graft on Maclura pomifera understock.
The following missive was penned by my friend Richard Moyer, back in 1999, when they were living in the KingsportTN/BristolVA area:
We have had Che fruit in for 7 years. Put in both a male and female plant. Survived 14 below several winters ago. Blooms after frost; has not frozen out in five or so years (am away from my notes), unlike our mulberry. No observed disease or insect problems. Birds are a problem, have netted the female. Disease and insect resistance similar here to mulberry and fig, which are in same family (Moraceae).
Pollination is the adventure with this plant:
The male sets fruit but most of these fall off; a few of them will ripen and be identical to female fruit. Male died to ground two winters ago; the female still set a full crop of seedless fruit. The male grew back last year, bloomed this year and acted like a female by setting the largest crop of ripening fruit yet. (It may be in the process of some type of gender conversion; time will tell.) Some debate has gone on for the need of a male pollinator. I’m not sure that I had any less fruit without the male two years ago. Our plants are on the far side of the field and hence do not merit close observation; my kids eat most of the fruit with the birds.
Both our plants are grafted onto Osage Orange. Hence, if you know how Osage Orange does on yours or similar land, this should suffice for your site. A.J. Bullard let a single stem go up to 8-9 ft, and cuts all others off, he has a nice form as the result. A number of our limbs on our bush are on the ground.
Hidden Springs grafts theirs onto Osage Orange if I recall correctly; they do not grow seedling trees of Che. If you mean they graft an unnamed “seedling”, they then are no different from any other nursery, to my knowledge. Don’t know of anyone who has selected and named superior cultivars from the wild (somewhere in China?) My impression of the one nursery that sells a ‘seedless’ selection is that this if merely a female. My sample size is too small to determine the value of two for pollination vs. one female.
We are at 1800’ zone 6, we rarely get into the 90s; we are on the borderline for enough heat to ripen Che fruit. In a cool summer, defoliation in fall will occur before last of fruit is ripe.
Ripe fruit has a strawberry color, knotty exterior like Osage Orange, tastes a bit like pear and fig to us; sweet but not overly so. Strange in that slightly unripe fruit leaves a metallic taste in my mouth.
In summary, an overlooked minor fruit. Well worth the effort to put in as a carefree, dependable producer in our area. The Blacks at Hidden Springs have made a jam with them.