Question the history of a cherry or know some history?

Cherries are a favorite fruit of many of us. Many of us hsve unusual stories about the types we grow. This section is all about telling the history of unusual cherries. There are many stories of where cherries came from in regions to cold to grow cherries. Places to far north to grow cherries now grow them regularly. It started with the first cherry i want to discuss The Evans Cherry also sold under the name ‘Bali’.

" This is is a sour cherry (Prunus cerasus ) cultivar rediscovered in an old orchard near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is significant because cherries were not considered viable in the harsh climate of the Canadian prairies, yet the specimen, discovered by Ieuan Evans, had been growing there since the 1920s. Grown on its own rootstock and self-pollinating, the Evans Cherry displays white blossoms in spring and bears abundant fruit.

" Ieuan Evans, who is a horticulturist, and was a specialist in plant disease and a research scientist for Alberta Agriculture, discovered a gardener, identified as “Mrs Bower,” who lived northeast of Edmonton near Fort Saskatchewan. She had been growing cherry trees which bore abundant fruit that dated to 1923. The orchard was being destroyed to make room to build a Federal jail, so Boward invited Evans to take some of the orchard’s trees both for the Alberta Tree Nursery and for his personal use. Evans discovered suckers from the cherry trees were easy to propagate and to grow so he distributed them to a wide circle of acquaintances and friends. Response from those growing the vigorous tree with its excellent fruit was very positive. However at that time, nurseries refused to sell the now-named Evans Cherry tree believing, despite the evidence, that cherries would not grow on the Canadian prairies. Eventually, nurseries like the DNA Gardens near Red Deer, Alberta began propagation and selling the trees. Later, a Winnipeg Manitoba nursery began selling thousands of the trees, and at present they sell out every year. The tree, now in the public domain, has been sold as cuttings as well as having been tissue cultured in parts of Canada and the United States.[2]"

" The Evans Cherry cultivar grows from 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 m) – other sour cherries are taller – with abundant white blossoms in spring, bright red fruit at an average weight of 0.15 ounces (4.4 grams), and juice that is pink-tinted to clear. The tree can be grown on its own root stock so there are no grafting problems; an advantage, since with grafting there can be incompatibility between the top or shoot and the grafted root stock, or a poor graft union can cause a trunk to split later on as the tree grows larger. Best trained as a tree rather than bush to make harvest of fruit easiest, the Evans Cherry is a self-fruitful, zone 3a cherry with a ripening season in North America in August.[1]"


and without the Evans cherry we wouldnt have the romance series of cherries as Evan was one of the parents. also North Star from MN was used as was some Mongolian cherries.


Montmorency has a sweet cherry parent so it will pollinate sweets and grow sweet cherry grafts. i have 3 on mine.


Do you have a source for that? All books I have read list Montmorency as a pure P. cerasus and do not mention any sweet cherry parentage. Since Montmorency is known from about 16th or 17th century, its true parentage is unknown but if it indeed had some characteristics of a sweet cherry heritage, this would be noted.



This is what i know about them. They are supposedly French Tart cherry of French heritage | Good Fruit Grower

Tart cherry of French heritage

About 95 percent of North American tart cherries are Montmorency, but in Europe, where it originated, tart cherries with dark flesh and juice are preferred.

January 15th 2011 Issue

January 15, 2011

Montmorency tart cherries are bright red with yellowish flesh and clear juice. They ripen just after the early sweet cherry varieties, or about mid-July in Traverse City, Michigan. Montmorency cherries are borne on trees that seem bush-like but are 15 to 20 feet tall.

Montmorency tart cherries are bright red with yellowish flesh and clear juice. They ripen just after the early sweet cherry varieties, or about mid-July in Traverse City, Michigan. Montmorency cherries are borne on trees that seem bush-like but are 15 to 20 feet tall.

Published January 15, 2011

For a cherry that is synonymous with cherry pie and George Washington’s mischievous hatchet, the Montmorency tart cherry doesn’t have much of a pedigree.

It is thought to have come from the Montmorency Valley just north of Paris, France, where it was named after a noble family that had grown it since the thirteenth century. French settlers moving up the St. Lawrence River Valley toward the Great Lakes brought it to the New World around 1760, perhaps earlier. Why they chose Montmorency over other European cultivars, and how it endured before it became commercialized in the late 1800s, are not part of the record.

What is known is that the American tart cherry industry, which is about half the size of the sweet cherry industry, was built on this one variety. More than 95 percent of North American tart cherries are Montmor-ency, an amarelle-type variety with bright red skin, pale flesh, and clear juice. In Europe, the morello type is the tart cherry of choice. Morello cherries have dark skin, flesh, and juice and are larger, firmer, and sweeter.

The Montmorency fruit sweetens as it ripens, but remains too tart for most people to eat out of hand. Its chief positive aspect is that tartness. Most of the crop is packed in 30-pound tins—25 pounds of cherries and five pounds of sugar—and sold frozen to food manufacturers, for use in pies, jams, and baked goods. Some goes into small cans for the dwindling number of home pie makers. And, for the last 30 years, more of the fruit has been going into cherry juice and dried cherry “raisins” made from sugar-infused fruit.


Despite years of promotion and recognition during February, National Cherry Month, consumption of tart cherries in the United States remains steady at less than a pound per person, about a tenth what Europeans eat. One industry focus on market development seeks to develop new products, and dried cherries and cherry juice have shown growth in recent years even as bakery use declines. Recently, it’s been promoted as a superfruit, based on claimed health attributes.

Researchers have verified many of the old myths about the healthful qualities of Montmorency tart cherries. They are a rich source of anti­oxidants, which can help fight cancer and heart disease, and other compounds in Montmorency tart cherries do relieve the pain of arthritis and gout, just as proponents claimed. Melatonin in cherries is a sleep aid.

New homeland

Montmorency cherries found their best new homeland along the shores downwind of the Great Lakes or on peninsulas mostly surrounded by Great Lakes water. In 1852, a Presbyterian missionary, Peter Dougherty, planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula, an 18-mile long, three-mile wide finger of land that splits Michigan’s Grand ­Traverse Bay. His cherries flourished, and other growers followed.

Door Peninsula in Wisconsin also became a leading producer of tart cherries in the late 1800s. In Michigan, the industry spread south, finding good sites all along the Lake Michigan shore. Similar sites did not exist in ­Wisconsin on the cold side of the big lake.

According to the history as told by the Cherry Marketing Institute, the first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm, on Old Mission near the site of Dougherty’s first orchard. By the 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state. The region turned out to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers the winter low temperatures and delays bloom in the spring.

The environment in which Montmorency cherries grow provides a challenge, however. They demand the best fruit sites, the places where rich folks like to perch their homes. Old Mission Peninsula became one of the nation’s first townships with a farmland preservation program, but even then, these sites are often converted to vineyards and wineries if not to houses.

There are about 37,000 acres of Montmorency cherries nationwide, 24,000 in Michigan. In the eastern United States, production sites are around the Great Lakes—in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York and in the Canadian province of Ontario. Utah, ­Washington, and Oregon contribute most of the balance.

Montmorency cherry trees are smaller than sweet cherry trees, 15 to 20 feet tall, and are spreading and bushlike, having a weak or no central leader. Unlike sweet cherries, they are self-fertile and are planted in blocks of one variety only.

Despite its dominance in the U.S. industry, Montmorency has numerous shortcomings, according to Dr. Amy Iezzoni, the Michigan State University tart cherry breeder, including susceptibility to diseases, insects, and climatic stresses, poor fruit firmness, and the necessity to add sugar and red coloring to the majority of processed products.

She is trying to develop new tart cherry varieties and has helped ­introduce the Balaton, a morello-type cherry from Hungary, that
some farmers are growing."

Do you have “The Cherries of New York” book by Hedrick? It’s a classic (published in 1915), with tons of information about old varieties. A searchable PDF version can be found online.



I do not have it but do have the pears of new york. Will look for it thank you! At one point i read evans was a natural dwarf 8 foot seedling of montmorency. Im not sure if that is still a rumor or not.

1 Like

Yes, this is an entire series of books: “The Cherries of New York”, “The Apples of New York”, “The Pears of New York”, “The Plums of New York”, and “The Peaches of New York”. I have them all in electronic form (PDF). A lot of invaluable information.


Im going to link this thread regarding carmine jewell and others it will come up soon Unreleased University of Saskatchewan prarie cherries we want & what we know about them contrasted with romance series cherries . Have grown some of these cherries for years and they really are fantastic Carmine Jewell Cherry Yields increasing with age

" Saskatchewan fruit breeders receive prestigious horticulture award

Bob Bors and Rick Sawatzky, fruit breeders with the Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, are the joint recipients of the prestigious Stevenson Award for their development of sour cherries and haskaps.

Inaugurated by the Manitoba Horticultural Association in 1932, it honours individuals who have “made a conspicuous achievement in the field of practical horticulture.” Named in memory of A. P. Stevenson, a pioneer Manitoba horticulturist who arrived from Scotland in 1874, it has been given only 21 times in 83 years.

As gardeners, we seldom give much thought to their origins as we eat haskaps fresh off the bush or take a cherry pie out of the oven. But it took more than 50 years of breeding and selection work at the University of Saskatchewan before you planted your prairie-hardy cherries and over 20 intensive years went into the development of those haskaps.

Sour Cherries

The first sour cherries planted in the University experimental plots were from seeds from the Central Siberian Botanic Garden in Novosibirsk. These were just beginning to fruit when Rick began work as a technician in 1971. They had low productivity and lacked winter hardiness. Asked to discard them, Rick took two home which he tried (unsuccessfully) to cross with sweet cherries. His goal: to develop a hardy large shrub with large, high quality fruit.

Rick’s next crosses involved a collection of sour cherries, mainly from Europe, received from Les Kerr (who had worked on them for at least 20 years). All these were controlled crosses made in the greenhouse with help from Rick’s kids on weekends. “It was a great botany lesson for them.”

Rick crossed the best of these, ‘Kerr’s Easy Pick’, with ‘North Star’, a sour cherry tree introduced from Minnesota. The result was ‘SK Carmine Jewel’, the first sour cherry introduced by the University of Saskatchewan in 1999.

Bob arrived at the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 when a new generation of Rick’s seedlings were coming into production. He tasted them, began taking data and thought, “These cherries are exciting!” Bob jokingly says, “Rick was their Dad and I became their Godfather.”

Bob tested them further, selected the best and developed a protocol for their tissue culture propagation. He gathered additional cherries from local growers and from Ontario and made more crosses. When making selections he looked at flavour, size, pitting ease and the possibility of mechanical harvesting.

Bob introduced the Romance series of cherries in 2003: ‘Crimson Passion’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Juliet’, ‘Romeo’ and ‘Valentine.’ Of these, Rick’s favorite is still ‘Carmine Jewel’ while Bob’s are ‘Romeo’ and ‘Juliette’.

Rick’s advice on the care of sour cherries: “Grow them as a shrub with multiple stems rather than in tree form. Bob concurs and adds: “Keep the soil around cherries weed-free.”


This is all true, about the montmorency cherry. In the south of France they really do not exist. Here they are called Griottes. All sour cherries are called Griottes even though 90% are Montmorency. I think its a nickname.

Their Sweet cherries are excellent. One variety is almost black, I do not know its name, but I will find out. The Balaton are delicous and I eat at least one quart each summer. There are many cherry orchards in the south of France, but most if not all are sweet cherries. The market for sweet cherries is enormous and you cannot have a summer without Clafouti! A cake with sweet cherries in the dough. The French leave in the pits! I find that dangerous for teeth.

Thus I planted my own Montmorency which are easily available in Spring at every nursery.

The French like their sweets and make jams and jellies from Balaton. Occasionally you will find Griotte jam or confiture.

I am hoping that this summer will bring enough cherries for a pie or at least four pints of jam. Fingers crossed. The tree has quite a few fruiting spurs so I am hopeful.

When I lived in RI my Montmorency tree 14 years old, was very large and gave me the least problems of all of my trees. It was a joy to own and provided pies for the neighborhood! It is the classic cherry pie cherry.

I followed a simple spray schedule that I kept to three times a year (except when the cherries were ripe (no spray) but the entire tree had to be netted or there would be no cherries at all. An all time favorite fruit along with apricots! It took 3 people to net the tree!


400lbs of fruit per tree is pretty good!


This old thread on Houzz talks about the Evans and others…

Konrad says that Evans doesnt seem to like zones above 5?



Can always appreciate a good cherry montmorency is one for sure. To this day i still grow it Seedling Montmorency cherries . Kansas weather can be harsh but it is also the land of plenty. A tough cherry like montmorency is important to have around. Love to hear about where you live in France.

1 Like


Konrad is a pretty knowledgeable guy on fruit growing. If he says it i’m inclined to think that might be accurate. Would still consider giving the evans a try since i’m in 6a it is more like 5b at times.


He goes into detail about buying from nurseries… and that some are grafted on mazzard… etc.

I found a nursery here in the US selling them for $39 but they dont talk about rootstock.

1 Like

Griottes is the French name for Morello type tart cherries (those with dark juice). Balaton is the Morello type. Montmorency is the other type — Amarelle (those with clear juice). Let me quote Hedrick:

The cherries with colorless juice are the Amarelles, from the Latin for bitter, a term probably first used by the Germans but now in general use wherever these cherries are grown, though the English often designate them as Kentish cherries and the French as Cerisier Commun. These Amarelles are pale red fruits, more or less flattened at the ends. Despite the derivation of the name Amarelle, they have less bitterness than the other group of varieties of the Sour Cherry. They are also less acid than the darker colored cherries and are therefore more suitable for eating out of hand while the dark colored cherries are almost exclusively culinary fruits. The common representatives of this group are Early Richmond, Montmorency and the various cherries to which the word Amarelle is affixed, as the King Amarelle and the Spate Amarelle.
The second group, varieties with reddish juice and usually with very dark fruits which are more spherical or cordate in shape than the Amarelles, comprises the Morellos of several languages or the Griottes of the French. The first of these terms has reference to the color, the word Morello coming from the Italian meaning blackish while Griotte, from the French, probably is derived through agriotte from aigre, meaning sharp, in reference to the acidity of these cherries. Weichsel is the German group name for these cherries, rather less commonly used than the other two terms. The typical varieties of this group are English Morello, Ostheim, Olivet, Brusseler Braune, Vladimir and Riga.


i dont remember where i read it. it was a very old publication translated from French i found by accident when i 1st researched this cultivar. its got to be true as you cant graft sweet cherry on other P. cerasus, yet you can on Monty. and its listed as pollinating all sweet cherries on several charts posted on several nursery websites. the 3 sweet cherry scions of 2 z4 hardy cherry cultivars i got from Travis, easily grafted onto the mid branches of my monty and grew well. about 12in. in 1 summer. 1 graft failed and thats likely due to my limited grafting skills.

im hoping to graft half of mine to sweets so i get a good amount of both from 1 tree. :wink:

Stan, I agree, made a mistake about the Balaton. Morello (though sounding Italian) is an
English black sour cherry. We do not have many of those growing here either. Living in the ‘stonefruit’ belt of France the cherries grown here are very large in size and very sweet. They are either very red or very black (all very sweet). Montmorency, for my money is still the best pie cherry ever!

Our Balatons, are bit sour only. They are a sweeter cherry here than Montys. Italians love the Balatons for cooking and preserving them in a thick syrup. Served over vanilla ice cream. A perfect summer dessert!

Griotte, is a nickname for sour cherries in France. It is a trade name, also meaning grit and pebbles. (Pits).


I purchased and planted a tissue-cultured ‘Bali’(Evans) cherry from St. Lawrence Nursery back around 1996. Planted 20 ft from a Montmorency. They are very different… I do not believe they are the same species, nor do I believe that Evans is a seedling of Montmorency.
While the photos I’ve seen posted by Konrad, and others in zone 4 and colder look fantastic… performance in zone 6 was pitiful. Evans is enough later than Montmorency that plum curculio &/or other insects hit the fruit hard long before ripening. I don’t think I ever got to eat a ‘perfect’ Evans cherry (there weren’t ANY), and after the first couple of years fruiting, I didn’t even bother to look at the thing, other than to say, “What a waste of space.”
Evans/Bali eventually started throwing up suckers up to 20-30 ft away… very distinctive leaf morphology. I dug some and shared with fellow NAFEXers, and I think I have finally eliminated the last of the suckers that persisted after the original tree declined and died.

I would advise against Evans/Bali if you’re in a warmer climate than zone 5… maybe even warmer than zone 4… up there in the real frigid northland, it looks like it’s hard to beat, but it’s a dog down here near the Z6-7 interface.