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View Full Version : Cornelian Cherries vs. Nanking Cherries or Both


lovetheland
January 28th, 2010, 08:57 PM
I am trying to incorporate more fruit in my landscape and also include smaller shrubs/trees. Have any of you had experience with either of these or know why I would or would not want them in my landscape? Thanks for your help!

mjc
January 28th, 2010, 09:44 PM
Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) are not a cherry, but rather an edible dogwood. They aren't really cherry flavored, are kind of tart and have a large seed/low flesh ratio.

Nanking bush cherries are a cherry (Prunus tomentosa) but also have a large seed/low flesh ratio. They are rather variable...some being much sweeter than others, but all tend to be a tart as opposed to sweet cherry.

Neither is suitable for pie making, but for jams and jellies both are fantastic. Both are also considered 'wildlife' plants. With the Cornelian cherries, a named cultivar (there are many) that is known for having larger/sweeter fruit is probably the best way to go. Nankings, yeah there are a few places that you may find 'preferred' selections/named cultivars, but more often than not, you can find seedling trees dirt cheap...none of them are truly disgustingly bad so if you can a dozen for under $15 and then take out the ones that aren't really good, you'll be ahead of the game than trying to find a 'preferred' one.

tashak
January 28th, 2010, 11:57 PM
Fairly short or low to the ground (about 3' tall here after some five plus years), survive strong winds, very cold winters and hot arid summers and poor soil. The flowers are small but pretty, and I haven't really noticed birds flocking to the fruit (which is nice for in the garden tasting).

tashak
January 28th, 2010, 11:59 PM
I've got one of each, but haven't noticed any new ones from selfseeding in the five or so years that I've had them.

deciduousLychees
January 29th, 2010, 03:25 PM
With the Cornelian cherries, a named cultivar (there are many) that is known for having larger/sweeter fruit is probably the best way to go.I'll second that if you're going to get you you should go with a named one. I don't know how much better they are, but the unnamed varieties I've tried were not too great (fresh anyway, I didn't try making them into a jam or anything).

I saw cornelian cherry jam for sale today at an Eastern European market. $5 for 16 oz, I really wanted to try it but didn't.

Denninmi
January 29th, 2010, 03:28 PM
Neither is suitable for pie making, but for jams and jellies both are fantastic.

Um, you didn't get to taste the Cornelian Cherry and William's Pride Apple pie I made last August, did you?:)

Actually, I've grown both.

Cornelian cherries are great, IMO. The flavor is halfway between sour cherry and cranberry. You can use them basically any way you would use a cranberry.

The Nanking bush cherries are OK, but a couple of issues. Like MJC pointed out, they're virtually all pit. They taste like a pie cherry, but there isn't much flesh there, really not worth the effort other than for eating a bit out of hand. Also, they bloom REALLY early, and in my yard most of the crop got frosted out most of the time. Finally, having grown them several times, I can tell you that, while fast growing, they're susceptible to a number of cankers and such that gives them a really short lifespan, at least here in the more humid east. Perhaps in a dry western climate they wouldn't have so many disease issues.

mjc
January 29th, 2010, 03:55 PM
Um, you didn't get to taste the Cornelian Cherry and William's Pride Apple pie I made last August, did you?:)

Actually, I've grown both.

Cornelian cherries are great, IMO. The flavor is halfway between sour cherry and cranberry. You can use them basically any way you would use a cranberry.

The Nanking bush cherries are OK, but a couple of issues. Like MJC pointed out, they're virtually all pit. They taste like a pie cherry, but there isn't much flesh there, really not worth the effort other than for eating a bit out of hand. Also, they bloom REALLY early, and in my yard most of the crop got frosted out most of the time. Finally, having grown them several times, I can tell you that, while fast growing, they're susceptible to a number of cankers and such that gives them a really short lifespan, at least here in the more humid east. Perhaps in a dry western climate they wouldn't have so many disease issues.


I was thinking more along the lines of how many and how much playing around is involved to get enough of either, by themselves, for even a small pie...flavor yeah, quite suitable...size of fruit/size of seed ratio...I'd rather something that you wouldn't break teeth on the seeds if you left them in.

I haven't actually grown Cornelian Cherries...had a couple of trees that I could raid, nearby. But something that I've heard and want to try is Kousa dogwood...it is supposed to have larger/better flavored fruit.

I've had a couple of Nanking bushes that were much more sweet than sour...that's what I was talking about with variability of them.

As to the short lifespan...when we decided not to bother with trying to keep them pruned to a very open, more tree like form, they didn't last very long. So with careful management you can get them to last a while...

But, if you think about it, though, they, in their wild state, are pretty much a second stage pioneer plant. They will move into an area that has a few weeds/grasses, grow into a small thicket and provide an area for longer lived trees to become established and then die off...about 15 to 20 years, maximum (but more often like 5 or 10), all while providing food for wildlife, especially birds that will be the main source of seeds and fertilizer for the new 'woods'.

Now for some ideas of what's available for cultivars...

Cornelian Cherry at OneGreenWorld (http://www.onegreenworld.com//index.php?cPath=1_26) (yes they are expensive)

lovetheland
January 29th, 2010, 06:04 PM
Thanks everyone for helping me out with this. It gives me a lot to think about. I think the server must have deleted some morning posts. I hope they show up here again; i.e. the gooseberry posts.

Looks like Cornelian Cherry might be preferred over Nanking Cherry. A source I found for Cornelian, having a sweeter cultivar (now that I know about that) is -

http://www.burntridgenursery.com/search/searchprods.asp .

Thanks, mjc for your source as well. I will compare them. The Elegant seems to be the sweeter cultivar.

I read somewhere where you need two to produce more fruit, but I was wondering if one would be adequate. Also I didn’t realize this particular Cornelian could get 20’ tall!

Thanks again for all your help!

Denninmi
January 29th, 2010, 07:15 PM
I read somewhere where you need two to produce more fruit, but I was wondering if one would be adequate. Also I didnít realize this particular Cornelian could get 20í tall!

Thanks again for all your help!

Um, my original Cornelian Cherry was all alone for probably the first 6 or 7 years of its life, without any more that I know of anywhere in the neighborhood, and it set plenty of fruit, more than I could ever use.

It has 5 companion plants in the yard now to cross-polinate with, all of which are seedlings from it.

blueribbontomatoes
January 29th, 2010, 07:41 PM
Thanks everyone for helping me out with this. It gives me a lot to think about. I think the server must have deleted some morning posts. I hope they show up here again; i.e. the gooseberry posts.

Thanks again for all your help!


I'm glad you noticed it too. I thought maybe it was a strange dream I had about gooseberries.:D

lovetheland
January 29th, 2010, 08:41 PM
Um, my original Cornelian Cherry was all alone for probably the first 6 or 7 years of its life, without any more that I know of anywhere in the neighborhood, and it set plenty of fruit, more than I could ever use.

It has 5 companion plants in the yard now to cross-polinate with, all of which are seedlings from it.

Thanks, Denninmi:
Now I know that one would be enough if I decide to get one. So, you have Cornelian Cherry, Kiwi, etc. I bet your place is nice!

lovetheland
January 29th, 2010, 08:46 PM
I'm glad you noticed it too. I thought maybe it was a strange dream I had about gooseberries.:D

I was really interested in that gooseberry information, too. I even responded to it, I think........ unless we were both dreaming! Maybe we need to have a gooseberry thread. I was wondering what nursery was mentioned and I also mentioned that we have a lot of wild gooseberries. How are other gooseberries different from wild ones?

mjc
January 29th, 2010, 08:55 PM
Burnt Ridge should have some gooseberries...OneGreenWorld definitely does.

Redbrick was the one who posted the gooseberry info...and no, noone is dreaming about it. I tried to retrieve it from my browser cache, but it was too long ago and it had been flushed, probably by coming back to the 'updated' page.

redbrick
January 29th, 2010, 11:41 PM
Hoo boy, I'm not sure where to start?

I was asking about your wild gooseberries, I think it'd be interesting to see what they taste like. I was also wondering if there was much variation from bush to bush in the wild ones, or if they were pretty much of a type. Most likely, cultivated varieties are larger fruiting than wilders, and there's definitely a range of qualities, some are good for eating out of hand, while others are better for preserves and baking.

Blueribbon, not to be hard on your Pixwell bush, but you've got to try Poorman. Pixwell is okay, if that's what you have available, and they're dead ripe, but they're much better for preserves than fresh eating. Now, if you knew someone who has a Poorman bush, you could maybe get some cuttings from them... <hint, hint, nudge, nudge>

As for a supplier, while I usually trade for my stock, there is a site that looks very good to me, Whitman Farms in Oregon. They give fair, unbiased reviews of the different varieties. If the cultivar is so-so, they say it's so-so. If they say it's excellent, you probably won't be disappointed in it. They also get good reviews at Dave's Garden, by the way.

So far, Ive been able to sample Pixwell and Poorman, and I have several other young bushes that haven't fruited yet. I'm hoping they fruit this year, at least for a taste, but that's still asking a bit much. They are Captivator, Hoenig's Earliest, Orus 8, Jahn's Prairie, Invicta, and a nameless bush from a friend's garden. That's the tough part about getting into gooseberries, the only way to sample them is to grow them yourself, or to sample a friend's planting. Half the time, people don't remember what kind they have, just calling it "gooseberry". Unless, of course, they're a bit obsessed, like me!

lovetheland
January 30th, 2010, 12:03 AM
LOL! Thanks, Redbrick. You are the first person I've ever heard of who is obsessed with gooseberries!!! I think our wild bushes are all the same. We usually pick the berries when they are at a larger green state. They do eventually get red or dark bluish red but anyone I've ever known just picks them green for pies. I like fruit that doesn't need a lot of sugar. That is not possible with our gooseberries!

On a side note, a long story made short, I once took a "peaberry" dessert (early morning, grabbed the frozen peas instead) to a gathering. Funny how most of us were on our second piece before someone said "are you sure those are gooseberries, I think they are peas"! Oh my, we still laugh about that one!

redbrick
January 30th, 2010, 12:07 AM
I think I'd be interested in trying a few cuttings from one of your wild bushes. Could I tempt you with a few cuttings from my Poorman?

lovetheland
January 30th, 2010, 12:27 AM
Redbrick,

That would be awesome. You'd need to tell me how to take the cuttings and ship them. I've never done that sort of thing but I'd be willing to try.

I'd been reading the Whitman site. I've never heard of so many different kinds of gooseberries and currants.

Thanks!
Lovetheland

redbrick
January 30th, 2010, 01:30 PM
That's no problem. You want to take cuttings of new wood, from last year's growth. They should be about 8 to 12 inches long. Take them while the wood is dormant, but not frozen. Wrap them in damp newsprint and double bag them in bread bags or newspaper delivery bags, then box them up and ship them early in the week. That way they won't sit in the post office over the weekend.

When you receive your cuttings in the mail, keep them in the fridge or a cool place until you're ready to stick them. Just make sure you don't store apples with them. The apples give off Ethylene gas, which can damage the buds. Prepare a nursery bed somewhere out of the way where they won't be disturbed for a full season. Loosen the soil as deeply as you can. Rub the buds off the bottom two thirds of each cutting, then stick it in the nursery bed, so that only the top quarter to third is above ground. Then walk away and don't do anything beyond weeding and watering until the fall, when they should be rooted and growing. And that's it!

I'll PM you with my contact info.

lovetheland
January 30th, 2010, 03:20 PM
Redbrick,

PM response coming.

Thanks!
lovetheland

happyhill
January 30th, 2010, 03:42 PM
I bought 10 nanking cherries and not one of them survived. They may have been too close to black walnuts. I have a cornelian cherry and it's growing slowly but it has been several years and no fruit yet. If you are looking for a 6 ft tall, quick bearing, disease resistant, delicious, productive, not invasive, cherry-like fruit grow a Goumi. It's awsome!

mjc
January 30th, 2010, 03:47 PM
Happyhill...Prunus species are one of the few things that will grow well close to Black Walnuts.

lovetheland
January 30th, 2010, 07:39 PM
If you are looking for a 6 ft tall, quick bearing, disease resistant, delicious, productive, not invasive, cherry-like fruit grow a Goumi. It's awsome!

Happyhill,

I read about the Goumi since your post and it does sound like something I'd be interested in, too. I think I was worried about the spikes/thorns they get. Obviously the Goumi has so many favorable characteristics that a few spikes/thorns won't matter. Thanks for the info.

So many plants, so little time and money!!!

grapenut
January 31st, 2010, 08:26 PM
Happyhill,

I read about the Goumi since your post and it does sound like something I'd be interested in, too. I think I was worried about the spikes/thorns they get. Obviously the Goumi has so many favorable characteristics that a few spikes/thorns won't matter. Thanks for the info.

So many plants, so little time and money!!!

when you first try Goumi, your not sure if you like it or not. Believe me once you start eating more than one here and one there, your going to start loving them, then crave them:)

lovetheland
January 31st, 2010, 10:41 PM
Happyhill, grapenut, and anyone else...I've seen Red Gem and Sweet Scarlet Goumi listed at nurseries. I was wondering if anyone has a preference or even another one that would be the best.

grapenut
February 1st, 2010, 12:52 AM
Happyhill, grapenut, and anyone else...I've seen Red Gem and Sweet Scarlet Goumi listed at nurseries. I was wondering if anyone has a preference or even another one that would be the best.

I can vouch for Sweet Scarlet, hope someone can tell us about Red Gem.

blueribbontomatoes
February 1st, 2010, 07:57 AM
"Blueribbon, not to be hard on your Pixwell bush, but you've got to try Poorman. Pixwell is okay, if that's what you have available, and they're dead ripe, but they're much better for preserves than fresh eating. Now, if you knew someone who has a Poorman bush, you could maybe get some cuttings from them... <hint, hint, nudge, nudge>"

Andy, are you trying to tell me something? ;) I would love to try the Poorman! Could you use some tomato seeds (haha!) I'd be most pleased with a few cuttings. Yes, the Pixwell has to be picked exactly when ripe, right before it falls off by itself. I'm not into making preserves or desserts. Too much sugar and work.
I have rooted Pixwell cuttings if anyone here is interested in trying that one. I can also take cuttings of the nanking cherry, red currant, and goji. Should we wait until spring for them? I usually take cuttings in the fall, not sure about the winter.
I haven't grown a goumi but it's certainly an attractive fruit in the catalogs. Is that something we can root cuttings of too?

redbrick
February 1st, 2010, 09:47 AM
What, me give hints? Nahhh! I'm subtle, subtle as a brick, LOL!

Heh, well, I don't need more tomato seeds, that I know! I'd be willing to trade for red currants, though. What variety are they? Do you know? Spring sounds good to me, say late February or early March?

indigogirl17
February 1st, 2010, 01:43 PM
I am trying to incorporate more fruit in my landscape and also include smaller shrubs/trees. Have any of you had experience with either of these or know why I would or would not want them in my landscape? Thanks for your help!

I grew Nanking Cherries bushes at my home in southwest Michigan. They are very beautiful but took several eyars before they fruited. They are delicious, but are small cherries with big pits.

blueribbontomatoes
February 1st, 2010, 06:50 PM
No, I don't know the variety. It was a nursery plant that only said Red Currant. So far I'm not that crazy about it. They are so small, and the birds are beating me to them. I will get back to you next month so we can set it up!
I love trading.:)
Maria

What, me give hints? Nahhh! I'm subtle, subtle as a brick, LOL!

Heh, well, I don't need more tomato seeds, that I know! I'd be willing to trade for red currants, though. What variety are they? Do you know? Spring sounds good to me, say late February or early March?