179. History and Classification

This refreshing and wholesome fruit is by no means a modern development. In the fourteenth century we are told by Marco Polo and others, that good cherries were grown in the kingdom of Timur the Great in Asia. Koch in his "Dendrologie" speaks of wild and cultivated cherries - both sweet and sour - over the parts of Asia Minor he visited, and Dr. E. Regel, who lived in Turkestan nine years, says: "Stately trees of the sweet cherry stand near Kâratag in the Hisser district. The original district for cultivation of the sour cherries in central Asia embraces all of west Turkestan from Tashkend and Kokham to the upper Amudaria and Afghanistan. Well-flavored, clear, red kinds are found in Baldshuan. In Shugnan the cherry juice is used as a cooling drink, but cherry brandy is unknown." At the great commercial fair at Nishni Novgorod in 1883 the writer and Mr. Charles Gibb were told by Asiatic merchants and traders that tall-growing sweet cherries and nearly sweet cherries of the Vladimir type were grown up to the 56th parallel of north latitude and eastward to the Ural Mountains, where water was obtainable. Botanically it is true that all cultivated cherries have originated, as stated by De Candolle, from two species which are yet found wild:

"(1. Seedling Variations) Prunus avium is tall, with no suckers from the roots, leaves downy on the under side, and the fruit sweet. (2. Seed Variation of Cultivated Plants) Prunus cerasus, shorter in growth, with suckers from the roots, leaves glabrous, and fruit more or less sour or bitter."

But in the centuries of evolution in Asia and east Europe, as well as west Europe, varieties originating from the two original species have been crossed and recrossed until any attempt to classify them botanically must prove unsatisfactory. On this subject Dr. Hooker says: "As with most plants which have been long cultivated it is a matter of difficulty, if not an impossibility, to identify the parent stock of the numerous cultivated varieties of the cherry." Robert Hogg, the celebrated English pomolo-gist, gave many years of study to a horticultural classification of the European varieties, and in his "Fruit Manual," he gives eight classes which are divided into eight races, as follows :

Class I. Geans.

Branches rigid and spreading, forming round-headed trees. Leaves long, waved on the margin, thin and flaccid, and feebly supported on the foot-stalks. Flowers large and opening loosely, with thin, flimsy obovate or roundish ovate petals. Fruit heart-shaped, or nearly so. Juice sweet.

Race 1. Black Oeans. - Fruit obtuse, heart-shaped; flesh tender and melting; dark; juice uncolored. Black Eagle and early purple gean are examples of this class.

Race 2. Red Geans. - Flesh pale; juice uncolored. Such as Downer's Late and Early Amber.

Race 3. Black Hearts. - Fruit heart-shaped; flesh half firm; dark; juice colored. Examples are Black Heart and Black Tartarian.

Race 4. Red Hearts or Bigarreaus. - Flesh pale; juice uncolored. Examples, Governor Wood and Elton.

Class II. Griottes.

Branches spreading at upright, or more or less long, slender, and drooping; leaves flat, dark green, glabrous beneath and borne stiffly on the leaf-stalks, large and broad in Class I and narrow in Class II; flowers in pedunculate umbels, cup-shaped, with firm and crumpled orbicular petals; fruit round or oblate and sometimes in the Morello heart-shaped ; juice subacid or acid.

Race 1. Black Dukes. - Branches upright, occasionally spreading; leaves large and broad; flesh dark; juice colored. Examples, Empress Eugenia and May Duke.

Race 2. Red Dukes. - Flesh pale; juice uncolored. Examples, Belle de Choise, Carnation, and Late Duke.

Race 3. Black Morellos. - Branches long, slender, and drooping; leaves small and narrow; flesh dark; juice colored. Examples, Double Natte, Cerise de Ostheim, and English Morello.

Race 4. Red Morello or Kentish. - Flesh pale; juice uncolored. Examples, Early Richmond, Early Red, Late Kentish, and Montmorency.

With this system in our vest-pockets, the writer and Mr. Charles Gibb in 1882 were able to classify all cherries in their season of fruitage in going eastward from France through Germany, Austria, Poland, and Russia to the Volga. The names of the sour and sometimes the duke varieties were often misleading, but the Bunt Amarelle was plainly a Red Duke, as was also the Lutovka and the Black Amarelles, and the Weichsels with colored juice were plainly Morellos and those with uncolored juice and red color were as plainly Red Morellos or Kentish. It is true that such east European varieties as Brüsseler Braune and Vladimer with colored skin and juice differ in tree habit and texture of fruit from the English Morello, yet they do not differ as much as the apples or oranges that are classed together, and the same is true of all the Red Morellos of all parts of Europe with red skin and uncolored flesh and juice. After separating into two groups the main after differences in the Morellos is in hardiness of tree as grown in various parts of the Union and difference in quality for varied uses.