Ming Cherry: The Ming Dynasty Returns
I’m no history buff but I have heard of the Ming Dynasty. Emperors, Ancient China, and success from a political point of view. There is now an ornamental cherry from China named after that dynasty: the Ming Amur Cherry. Amur Cherry, which many of you would be familiar with, has a golden orange bark and is from the Amur River area of northeastern China. Rumor has it that the Ming Cherry is a hybrid between Amur Cherry and a sour cherry also with origins spreading across Northern China and Mongolia. Ming Cherry is becoming popular for many good reasons. These days when looking for a tree people are looking for low-maintenance, upright branching with as little pruning necessary, flowers and interesting fall colour. If possible, they are also looking for something with drought tolerance, soil tolerance, and really just a generally not fussy tree. Also people preferably want a little tree, and please make it seedless so it’s not messy! What a dream tree hey?
Thankfully that dream tree is easier to get than you may think! The Ming Amur Cherry packages all of that very well. It is far less particular about soil then the Amur Cherry for a start. Also, it doesn’t crack on the stems, the leaves are darker green and turn a golden orange in the fall. It has white flowers in spring and produces next to no fruit! And if fruit is produced it is tiny and will be snatched up by the birds before they can even hit the ground.
The Ming Cherry appears to come out of the Saskatoon Cherry breeding program. The university was out to develop good fruiting sour cherries, which we sell many of. This gem turns out to be a castaway misfit. He’s taller, with small fruit, and a very poor producer of said fruit. Lucky for us!
This tree makes a great feature in the front yard or a place with little space. Mature height is expected to be around 20 feet tall and about 12 feet wide. The glossy, dark green foliage stays disease-free right till the fall. As with all fruit I would not plant it in a low soggy spot, but average moisture to dry ground suits this little guy just fine. By the way: the growth rate isn’t bad either! Under a regular watering schedule this tree should grow between 16 to 24 inches per year! Being developed in Saskatoon gives it a Zone 2 hardiness which is good down to – 40 degrees Celsius. We have been planting them around the nursery and now have one at about 12 feet in height, receiving full winter exposure from the north, west and south. We so far see no challenges with the cold: even after last winter’s miserable events. If you haven’t heard of Ming Cherry before, you will hear about it again. I’m looking forward to promoting this tree. In the last five years we’ve tested this little beauty and he’s come through with flying colours.