Cherries from weeping cherry trees, or ‘Prunus subhirtella’, are popular for their flavoured juicy fruits and their beautiful, drooping branches. Commonly grown in temperate countries of Eastern United States and Europe, namely, the United Kingdom and Germany, weeping cherry trees come in many varieties, allowing growers to choose a variety to fit the setting of their backyard.
Throughout the blooming season, weeping cherry trees are admired for their beauty as they blossom with white flowers, followed by the formation of fruits in its later weeks. Often bright red, morello-type cherries ripened quicker than other varieties, and can be sweet enough to eat straight off of the branches.
However, there are many risks associated with eating cherries from a weeping cherry tree. Firstly, those from weeping cherry trees can contain traces of chemicals which were used to treat the trees. If a grower has used pesticides and herbicides on the trees, these toxins can be absorbed into the fruit, making them potentially harmful for consumption. Secondly, although it is rare, a weeping cherry tree can also be afflicted by a certain fungus disease which can affect the trees. If untreated, it can spread to the fruit, making them inedible and potentially providing health risks to humans.
Although it is not recommended that people attempt to eat cherries from a weeping cherry tree, this is not to say that these trees cannot be used to produce edible fruits. By careful monitoring and management of a weeping cherry tree, an individual can determine factors such as the application of chemicals, and any potential disease complications which may arise, to have safe and delicious fruits.
“When a weeping cherry tree is grown in the correct conditions and under correct management, it can produce some very delicious and nutritious cherries,” said Professor Charles Porter, a tree biologist from the University of North Carolina. “It is important though, that a grower is aware of the potential risks, and takes the necessary steps to monitor these factors and remain up to date with any health risks.”
Pruning involves two methods for weeping cherry trees to ensure a safe and plentiful harvest. Firstly, pruning a weeping cherry tree involves selectively removing stems and branches to shape the tree into a desired form. This also helps to manage the size of the tree, making it easier to monitor its growth and ensure that it does not produce too much fruit. Pruning should be done regularly, as these trees can become overgrown very quickly due to the rate at which they produce flowers and fruits.
The second method of pruning is thinning. This is where select fruits are removed from the branches so that only those with the best size and quality remain to be harvested. Thinning is often done when trees start to become overcrowded with fruits, and helps to ensure that all remaining cherry fruits acquire sufficient amounts of nutrients and minerals before they are ready to harvest.
Harvesting time for weeping cherry trees is determined by the variety of the tree and the local climate. Sweet morello-type cherries have a shorter ripening span, and can ripen in a matter of weeks if the climate is warm enough. Tart cherries on the other hand, take longer to ripen and are sometimes picked before they are fully ripe, which allows the fruit to ripen fully off the tree.
When harvesting cherries from a weeping cherry tree, it is important that it is done in a timely manner as leaving them on the tree for too long will result in the degradation of the fruits. Ripe fruits should be firm to the touch, and if any fruit shows signs of a fungal infection, these should be discarded immediately.
Cherries are heavily dependent on the environment that they are stored in, as warm and humid environments can cause them to spoil quickly. Other than refrigeration, cherries can be stored in a cool, ventilated area to extend their shelf life. They can also be stored in their original packaging, however if this is not available, individual fruits should be stored in airtight containers and placed in the bottom crisper tray of a refrigerator.
Cherries from weeping cherry trees are a versatile fruit and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Whether it is being used to make a tart or a cake, cherries can be used to make a range of sweet and savoury dishes. The fruits can also be eaten as they are straight off the tree as they are packed full of nutrients and vitamins. However, it is important to remember the potential health risks associated with eating these cherries and make an informed decision on whether they are suitable for consumption or not.
Cherries can also be preserved for a longer period of time. By freezing the cherries, they can be kept for a much longer period of time and can also be used for making tasty jams and pies in the colder months. The fruits are also easily dried and can be very useful for adding flavour to baking and other desserts.
Cherries from weeping cherry trees can also be used to feed local wildlife. Although the fruits can cause harm to humans, they are completely safe for animals and are a great source of nutrients for birds and other woodland creatures.
The weeping cherry tree prefers moist soil and a warm environment to grow in, as it can struggle to thrive in occasional cold climates. To ensure that a weeping cherry tree grows optimally, it is important to provide it with the correct amount of water and nutrients. This can be achieved by providing the tree with mulch and compost, which will help to trap in moisture and provide the tree with essential nutrients.