Cricket Hill Garden
Prunus tomentosa, Nanking Cherry
Variety description: Dense twiggy shrub grows to 6' to 10' tall. Exfoliating, shiny chestnut brown bark is particularly attractive on the bare shrub in winter. Michael Dirr recommends pruning out lower branches to make the bark more readily appreciated. One of the first trees to flower in the early spring, around the same time as apricot trees. The bare branches are covered with a profusion of pink buds which open to 3/4" pinkish-white flowers.
Shrubs are somewhat self-fruitful though yields are increased with cross pollination. Dark green, 2-3" oval leaves have a hairy underside. The 1/4" scarlet fruit ripens in late June and early July. Sweet, slightly tart cherries are good for eating out of hand, or processing into pies and jams. Comes in to bearing at a young age, with a handful of fruit borne on three year old seedlings.
Prunus tomentosa is native to a wide range of China, where it grows from the northern provinces of Liaoning and Inner Mongolia to the southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. In Chinese it is most commonly known as mao ying tao, or hairy cherry, alluding to the fine airs on the underside of the leaves. Regionally, in the eastern Shandong province, it is also known as shan dou zi, or mountain pea, which perhaps alludes to the ease with which this plant adapts to rugged environments.
Site requirements: Grows in a wide range of soils (pH range 5-7.5), including areas with heavy soil, prefers a full sun location.
Pests and diseases: Thus far has shown itself to be pest and disease free, though be prepared to net the shrub or share the harvest with the songbirds. Like most Prunus species it is susceptible to branch canker, but it seems to be much more resistant than peach or apricot.
Hardiness: USDA zones 2-7.
Plant size: Well-rooted, 2-3' plants. Field grown, ships bare root.
When we ship: Late winter/Spring 2024.
Shipping restrictions: None.