Nanking cherries

I have had my mind set on nanking cherry wine every since I read a thread about a guy that made some and it was so good that he drank it all before he was able to age it for one year. I planted these two years ago when they were little seedlings. They have set fruit and it looks like there will be plenty


Very nice pictures! You’re a bit ahead of us, and all that green really makes me wish away the next couple weeks! I saw your 'gus was up pretty good too. I only have about 5 peeking out about 1/4".

My Nephew has a Nanking and he really likes the flavor. He just fresh eats 'em so the pit to flesh ratio isn’t anything to him.

They do have a good flavor, like a pie cherry flavor but sweeter. I planted thirteen down my north fence. I hope I can get enough fruit to make a small batch of wine. It is interesting to see the difference in the seedlings. A couple are smaller and
Have very small flowers. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to graft nankings for fruit size.

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I bought a bundle of row-run Nanking seedlings somewhere…Gurney’s, Henry Field…one of those outfits, years ago. Mainly for use in a grafting experiment - you can use them as a dwarfing rootstock for peaches & plums.
Whoever was producing them must have been using the most inferior seed strain out there. I keep seeing you folks up North raving about them, but mine made tiny little fruits, smaller than an autumn olive fruit, with a larger pit and less pulp than an AO. Definitely not worth my time to bother picking or eating one. There must be better ones than what I got.

Mystery solved on my nanking cherries that were slow to leaf out and had very small flowers. I closely inspected them this morning and noticed that one had a bulged trunk down below the mulch. My mom had flagged these with some kind of flashy ribbon when they were leafed out and easy to identify. I dug them when they were dormant and just left the ribbons on when I transplanted. Most were flagged on a branch but these two had it tied low around the main stem. Stupid mistake. I was able to dig it out. Maybe they will live

Thank you. I swear I felt like the only person to be disappointed by nanking cherries. I purchased about half a dozen, waited until all of them had fruited and promptly ripped them out (which was about 5 years after having planted them). I had some from Henry Field’s and some from somewhere else

I found them tiny, practically all pit and blueberry sized. They were much more tart than my red currants (or the cherry trees which replaced them)

I could have never imagined picking and pitting enough of them to make even an individual sized pie.

These were the first producing fruit plants I had ever ripped out. They were pretty in bloom, but even my kids found them too much trouble. Hansen’s bush cherry met a similar fate (though it also had disease problems that the nankings didn’t have)


Yeah, mine were tiny…think they’re all gone now, but as best I can remember, the fruits weren’t any bigger than a blackeye pea, almost all pit, with a tiny little rim of pulp around 'em. Don’t recall anything about the flavor - if there was any. Not sure that even the birds bothered with them.

So how big are your nankings, Jason and Jerry, and how much of that is pit?

Pit flesh ratio is pretty bad but we still eat them by the handfuls because they have a wonderful sour sweet flavor. They are Fireblight magnets. I don’t recommend them anymore because cherries like carmine jewel are far superior in every way.

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I would say that they bigger than a black eyed peas but not much. U just have to pick a bunch of them. My mom makes jelly out of them. I really like the flavor. The pit is large as others have stated. I don’t mind picking them, they grow good and u don’t have to spray them. They r difficult to pit as they r so small. I am hoping I can lightly smash them and remove the pit. I have read if u freeze them first it makes them juice better.

The horticulturalist from Raintree nursery advised against them on the wet side of the PNW because they will get diseases, and the fruit will fall out, and the bushes don’t live too long here due to the disease anyway.

Derby42, Does your nanking cherry flower look like this? My nanking blooms like this every year but has never set any fruits.

Here is a photo of mine. It looks about the same. I have never had just one of these, always several. They r easy to grow from seed. I saved about two cups of seeds when mom made jelly. I planted them in a little planter in late summer. The next spring about 20 came up. I transplanted some of them pulled the rest. A year later in the spring the rest of the seeds sprouted .


Are these things deer magnets? I mean, in relation to other fruit trees, do deer show a preference for the leaves and fresh shoots of these bush cherries? My experience with sweet cherries (prunus avium) has shown that deer will single out the young cherries and mow them back to the old growth before bothering with any of the other other fruit trees.

I have never had deer feed on my nanking cherries . We have a healthy population of whitetail deer here in rural sw missouri but they are the scared kind of deer. We have lived here for 18 years and I have never seen a deer or sign of a deer in my one acre yard. They come out of the timber across the neighbors field a couple houndred yards away but if I go out in the yard they will run back in the woods so my experience may not be comparable to yours. I have read many posts here of people who have deer damage right in their yards.

@AJfromElmiraNY I know what you mean about the deer loving cherries. My Stella was eaten three times. It has an ugly look to it and its behind deer fence! It’s just now getting tall enough to start growing at a regular rate.

Animals do seem to have local behavior differences. The deer in rural areas here stay away during the day and raid yards at night. In the housing developments they have a permanent deer population that live among the houses because they have learned it is a safe haven with endless salad bar of exotic edibles. Here is a documentary that covers overpopulation of whitetail in our area deer due to humans providing them with safety and food.

I was thinking about planting Nanking cherries or Romance series bush cherries outside my protection area as an edible landscape. By edible landscape I mean the fruit, not the bush! I’m not sure what to expect with these bushes. Will they attract deer with their scent/flavor or do they find them undesirable?

You have more than one plant? There was one nanking cherry planted decades ago here and never had any fruit until I planted some others that started flowering.

I don’t think the deer here like the leaves of nanking as much as other cherries, as their velvety felt on the leaves is not as desirable to eat.

I have loved eating these fruits, they are sooner than my other cherries and most other fruit for me, in late June. One year I didn’t have any mulberries because of a spring freeze, so the birds gobbled these up, otherwise there is enough for me. I am starting to see volunteers pop up all over, too. Under the plants I see a multitude of seedlings come up this spring.
They seem pretty reliable fruiting, too.