Beth Burrell (plant specialist), owner of Giving Tree, specializes in four-season garden design and teaches for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.

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Chinese Che Tree
by Beth Burrell       #Edibles   #Fruit   #Trees   #Unusual


Birds love the berries and enjoy nesting in this uncommon fruit tree from China.

Grape-size red fruits catch the eye starting in late August on this uncommon but commendable fruit tree known as Chinese che. At first it is slow to grow, a few inches at best. Just be patient – as with many plants three years seems to be the charm, resulting in several feet of growth and the onset of fruit production. No pollinator is needed, but word has it in plant circles you want to get a female for good fruit set.

Blooms appear after danger of frost with seldom any disease or insect problems, similar here to mulberry and fig, which are in the same family (Moraceae). I have trained mine into a single-trunk tree, yet it can easily be grown as a large shrub. Ripe fruit has a strawberry color with a knotty exterior similar to kousa dogwood berries. Flavor is pear-like, but it’s the ornamental value and uniqueness of this plant that wows me.



Disease and drought resistant, with an open, airy habit, this is a nice landscape tree for the sun.

Common Names: Che, Chinese che, Chinese mulberry

Botanical Name: Cudrania tricuspidata

Bloom Period: Late April

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Size: 15-25 feet

Exposure: Full sun

Zones: 6-9

When to Plant: Late spring around May/June

How to Plant: Amend soil with well-drained organic matter and sand. Plant ¼ inch above soil level from container.

Soil: Sharply drained to sandy loam

Watering: Water until established and during hot summer months of first year.

When to Prune: Prune back following heavy freezes.

When to Fertilize: Late winter (February/March)

In Your Landscape: Ornamental tree requiring minimal care, tolerant to drought and poor soils, and resisting temperatures down to -20 F. Food supply for birds.
 

 

(From Virginia Gardener Volume IX Issue IX. Photos courtesy of Beth Burrell.)
 

 

Posted: 12/02/11   RSS | Print

 

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