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New Favorite Bush Fruit

August 24, 2013

Black Nanking
prunus tomentosa x prunus besseyi
nanking cherry crossed with a sandcherry

i planted some 3 seasons ago and got the first fruits this year,
the fruit is sandcherry sized (~3/4") and dark purple

the flavor is what you might expect, sweet cherry start with a plum and slight chokecherry finish
beautiful eaten fresh or excellent for jams/jellies/wine

the tree has both the low/hanging habit of the sandcherry, but also some decent upright growth
in the pic i pruned some of the low growth off and any branches overhanging a path to upward facing buds

there was a profusion of flowers,
but also a profusion of cedar waxwings that always seemed to be in the bush,
so i was disappointed in the fruit set, i will net them off next year
i have nankings and sandcherries in close proximity, no frost hit the flowers, and there was decent bee action at flowering
so the waxwings get the blame (or maybe the plants young age?)
if you managed even 70% pollination you would get buckets of fruit from each plant, especially if you allowed them to sprawl on some decent mulch

This post was edited by intotheark on Sat, Aug 24, 13 at 12:03

Comments (18)

  • northernmn

    Very interesting. Where did you get your plants?

    The bush looks surprisingly like some 1/2 high blueberry plants that I have.

  • Konrad___far_north

    Do you have a close up picture of the fruit, seed etc. I'd be interested to get one, are you propagating it?

    Went out for sale shopping and got me a Black Chokeberry, there was no Latin name but it could be Aronia melanocarpa, it has black berries, good clusters and was surprised with much pulp and little seeds, taste was better then chokecherry,...if it survives it could be another good bush fruit.

  • Konrad___far_north

    I was surprised how loaded this little bush is.
    Aronia is making big waves lately as being a kind of super health berry, loaded with goodies for the benefit of your health.

  • Konrad___far_north

    Here a side by side, left chokecherry, right aronia to compare.

  • Konrad___far_north

    Squeeze/smash test,..
    As you can see, aronia with tiny little seeds.

  • intotheark

    i stumbled upon these plants at walmart in Lloydminster,
    and never again, glad i picked them up
    but i have seen them on the web at some reputable mail order companies (both usa & canada)

    any of the dark purple/black fruit are packed with phytonutrients/antioxidants,
    like anthocyanins, xanthones, acids, and other important polyphenols
    i have one customer that asks for only dark purple fruit products
    apparently aronia berries have the highest antioxidant level of any native fruit in america,
    coupled with the tiny edible seeds (vitamin B17) make it an intriguing plant,
    and its growth appears to be manageable (4'-6' tall for the Nero and Viking varieties)
    i will definitely be keeping an eye out for these plants

    i just read about seed saving for nanking, i think i will try this for the black nanking next season,
    but chinese air layering may also work if started early

    i didn't get any shots of the fruit,
    i brought them inside, cleaned them and immediately processed them into a special wine for my brother,
    and in the rush forgot to take a pic

    here is a pic of one in flower this spring

  • intotheark

    i went out and found some fruit left on the plant
    in the pic the black nanking is the fruit on top,
    it is compared with a couple of sandcherries on the bottom

    the black nankings are a little larger on average,
    and have a nice dark purple meat

  • Konrad___far_north

    That looks great!

    Thanks for this picture!

  • Konrad___far_north

    Anybody growing the black elderberry?
    This one is also a super berry, got a bush but not sure if berries will ripen out.
    Back in Switzerland I used to pick it from the edges of forest, my mom made a sirup/jelly.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Aronia Health Benefits

  • northernmn

    Here is what St. Lawrence Nurseries in New York State has on Aronia or Black Chokecherry "Aronia melanocarpa"

    They sell 2 varieties: Nero and Viking. Both of these varieties @ 1 to 2 ft high bare root sell for $7.50.

    Aronia berries contain the highest known levels of antioxidants of any temperate fruit - 5 times higher than blueberry or cranberry - and also contain strong anticancer compounds.

    Nero and Viking are cultivars that produce a fruit that is reputedly used in Russia for pie production, and can also be processed into juice. The berries are astringent when eaten fresh but the taste improves once processed. Will reach a height of 5 ft.

    I was hoping that they might have the "Black Nanking" but they only had the regular Nanking.

  • Konrad___far_north

    Aronia is called Chokeberry,..ripening out here could be a problem,..if it will take the winter?

  • Collin001

    Konrad, last year I almost planted a black elderberry but my nose picked up a distinct muskiness inherent to them. The smell lingers similar to junipers. It was for that reason I walked. Still there is a lot of research on the web about elderberry fruit options. It is worth following up on.

    You have my attention intotheark! I have only seen black nanking advertised once and was told getting a sandcherry to set fruit was difficult. I opted for a small plant like the purple leafed sand cherry to finish out my front yard. It has never produced fruit though it is only in its 2nd year. Considering how knawed upon that plant is by rabbits, you would think we had urban beavers! Any fruit would be gobbled up in a hurry as the rabbits keep it from rising above the 3ft mark.

  • Konrad___far_north

    It would be difficult to any significant growth with the purple leafed sand cherry due to winter die back,..got rid of mine over 10 years ago.

    My elderberries are still green, ...need another 2 weeks of good weather I think,..could be a kiss good by plant. But,..people growing it in the city most likely bring black ripened fruit to the Devonian Fruit show this weekend.

  • intotheark

    i have not had any problems with sandcherries fruiting,
    except for winter two years ago, voles girdled every single one
    ended up with a handful of berries
    this year about 3/4's have fully recovered and are fruiting like normal
    so we will have plenty for a type of wine/extract i make

    we have a sambubcus nigra, but no fruit yet, i'm not sure we will, except maybe exceptional years
    if you do get those elderberries to ripen i can give you a recipe to make 'flu killer'
    it is a simple dried elderberry & vodka soak, but it will even attack bird flu, as well as regular flus
    'sambucol' you can buy in the store is a black elderberry product

  • Konrad___far_north

    Think you're talking about Western Sandcherry, Prunus besseyi, yes, no problem with these, Prunus x cistena, [purple leaf] is not hardy for zone 3.

    Sambubcus nigra could be difficult to fruit, I have a hardier, Sambucus canadensis Johns [in picture] it's self fruitful and hardiest of all.

    At the growers meeting today,..as I suspected, ripe berries grown in Edmonton, he say's when heaving a cold, a handful of these, [raw] and in two day's it's over.

  • Konrad___far_north

    This is Aronia Viking, grafted onto Hawthorn this spring, looks like it's ripening.

  • cmmwiebe

    I have grown Aronia for many years and have only been able to harvest a couple of years.
    The 2 I have are Autumn Magic and Autumn Flame. I will check which has the larger fruit as one of them is small and slightly dry while the other can be up to 1/2 inch on a good year. They make a mild flavored jelly. Also they are in the same family as Saskatoon and Roses thus the small seeds.
    Little Tree Nursery in Martensville SK sells a plant with a good sized fruit. As far as I know it is an un-named selection. Mine have become part of a natural flower bed and have strong competition from other trees and shrubs so I think they would do better a deliberate field production planting.
    Clayton near Saskatoon

  • Konrad___far_north

    Thank you Clayton!
    I contacted them, they sell seedlings from seeds collected at
    Parterson Botanical Garden in Saskatoon. [perhaps you can check them out and get some seeds if it looks promising]

    Mine is also Autumn Magic, fruit size is pretty good,.. in Google I found your old thread, Clayton,..forgot all about it, looks like you had a nice little harvest.

    This black elderberry survived several light frost,..picked some bunches, I found them fairly good taste when fresh, only about 1/3 ripened up. The first couple of bunches I harvested about 10 day's ago.

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