The Fruits of America (1852)
Charles Mason Hovey

THE SWEET MONTMORENCY CHERRY
Sweet Montmorency. Magazine of Horticulture, vol. xii. p. 344.
Allen's Favorite, of some Nursery Collections.

The number of American varieties of cherries is yearly increasing, and we may soon expect to find the principal kinds, in general cultivation, our native varieties. Much improvement, however, we hope yet to see effected in this fine fruit. The late Mr. Knight, President of the London Horticultural Society, succeeded in producing several new sorts, by the process of cross-fertilization, which have held a high reputation; but, since the origin of his seedlings, less attention seems to have been given to the production of new cherries than other fruits.

The principal American varieties, of which we have several of great merit, have been accidental productions, and the Sweet Montmorency is one of the number. The earliest notice we have of it is that given by the late Mr. Manning, in his Synopsis of Forty-four varieties, in the Magazine of Horticulture, (vol. viii. p. 281,) which he had collected together during many years, and produced from seed, and which he had fruited and proved in his Pomological Garden at Salem. Mr. Manning gave so favorable an account of this variety that we immediately procured it; and, from trees budded in 1842, we had a small crop, the present year, for the first time.

The Sweet Montmorency originated in the garden of Mr. J. F. Allen, in Chestnut street, Salem. It was an accidental seedling, which sprung up with others about the year 1831 or 1832. In 1834, several of these seedlings were planted out, and, in 1836 or 1837, they came into bearing. Mr. Manning saw the fruit, and was so much pleased with it that he named it the Sweet Montmorency, from the supposition that it sprung from a seed of the common Montmorency cherry, an acid fruit. It was the only tree which proved worthy of cultivation.

The original tree is growing in Mr. Allen's garden, and, since it first began to bear, it has not failed to ripen a fine crop of fruit every season. It is scarcely ever injured by weather which usually cracks and injures most varieties. It is one of the latest sweet cherries, ripening at the same time as the Late Duke, and possesses the good quality of hanging long upon the tree after it is mature, and also of keeping some time after it has been gathered and placed in the fruit room. One peculiarity of the Sweet Montmorency is, that, soon after it begins to color, it becomes of a fine red, and, by many cultivators, would be considered quite ripe. In this state, however, it yet has a bitter taste; but, as soon as it becomes deeply colored, and assumes a mottled appearance, the bitterness passes away, and it becomes perfectly sweet and delicious. It is a remarkably productive variety; on a small forked branch, a foot long, we have counted nearly one hundred cherries.

We have not given any vignette of the habit of growth of the Sweet Montmorency: the numerous varieties of the cherry have so great a resemblance in general habit, that engravings would be of no great value, only in some particular sorts, which have a distinctive character.

TREE.—Very vigorous, somewhat spreading, with erect, stout, annual shoots, similar to the Tartarian, but with the lateral branches more diverging.

WOOD.—Strong, rather short-jointed, reddish brown, little dotted with russet, and covered with a grayish epidermis; buds long, shortly pointed.

LEAVES.—Medium size, ovate oblong, acuminate, largest about the middle, tapering to the point; coarsely and rather deeply serrated, and slightly folded at the edge: petioles about two inches in length, stout, with two large reniform glands placed just at the base of the leaf.

FLOWERS.—Medium size; petals narrow; style and stamens about equal.

FRUIT.—Rather small, nearly round, little flattened at both ends, with a shallow suture on one side, and an indented point at the apex: Skin, pale amber in the shade, of a deep orange red in the sun, becoming darker when fully ripe, and mottled with yellow: Stem, rather short, about an inch in length, moderately slender, and inserted in a very shallow hollow: Flesh, yellowish, very tender and melting, and slightly adhering to the stone: Juice, plentiful, rich, sweet, high flavored and delicious: Stone, small, round.

RIPE the last of July and beginning of August.