The “Carmine Jewel” cherry (Prunus cerasus x Prunus fruiticosa) is a relatively new cultivar. A hybrid created by a research program in Canada, it possesses extreme cold hardiness but also produces good fruits on small bushes. It is technically classed as a dwarf sour cherry, and has only been introduced to the U.S. in the last few years.
Sometimes referred to as a hardy bush cherry or as the “Carmine Jewel” hardy bush cherry, as well as a Canadian dwarf sour cherry, the “Carmine Jewel” cherry is a cross between the sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) and the Mongolian cherry (Prunus fruiticosa). The cross is 75 percent to 25 percent. Among their benefits are extreme cold hardiness, bush-type growth rather than tree growth, relative freedom from pests and a lack of suckers. “Carmine Jewel” will grow in full sun to partial shade, and in most soils providing they are well drained.
Because the “Carmine Jewel” cherry is so new relative to better-known varieties such as the “Bing” cherry (Prunus avium “Bing”), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, the southern limit of this cherry’s hardiness range has not been determined as of 2013, notes the University of Wisconsin. It is winter hardy to USDA zone 2b. Its parent cherries, sour cherry and Mongolian cherry, are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and 2 and above, respectively.
The fruits of the “Carmine Jewel” are bright red with a high sugar content for sour cherries. The fruit is a deep red on the outside, with deep red juice within. When very ripe, the cherry turns almost black. This deep color could indicate the presence of anthocyanins, which have health benefits including antioxidants. Their tart flavor makes them well suited to cooking in pies and jams, just like sour cherries.
When fully mature, the “Carmine Jewel” cherry is usually a shrub between 4 and 8 feet tall, though it usually tops out around 6 or 7. It takes five years to fully mature, but may start bearing a good crop of fruit -- as much as 4 pounds per bush -- as early as its third or fourth year. The plant can live up to 20 years, making it a good investment for the long-term edible landscape.
- University of Wisconsin Uncommon Fruit: Carmine Jewel
- Colorado State University Extension: Research & Demonstration Orchard Projects
- North Dakota State University: Canadian Dwarf Sour Cherries Update –- 2007 - 2010
- North Dakota State University: Dwarf Sour Cherry
- University of Illinois Extension: Sour Cherry
- North Dakota State University: Mongolian Cherry
- University of Illinois Extension: Sweet Cherry
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