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PRUNUS cerasus 'Northstar'

Image of Prunus cerasus 'Northstar'

Mark A. Miller

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PRUNUS cerasus 'Northstar'

Plant Common Name

Northstar Tart Cherry, Sour Cherry

General Description

Bred to endure the severe winters of the northern Midwest United States, 'Northstar' bears an abundance of snowy flowers and tart cherries on dwarf trees that fit beautifully into suburban gardens and limited spaces. It was introduced in 1950 by the University of Minnesota. Cultivated since ancient times, sour cherries probably originated in eastern Europe or western Asia from a hybrid between sweet cherry, Prunus avium, and ground cherry, Prunus fruticosa.

This small, rounded, exceptionally cold-hardy tree has shiny, oval, dark green leaves that emerge in early to mid-spring, just as its cupped white flowers open. The deliciously tart, dark red fruit ripen in early to midsummer. Unlike that of many sour cherries, the flesh is red throughout, giving pies and desserts a brighter, more appealing look.

For best flowering and fruiting, sour cherries prefer a location in full sun and average, well-drained soil. Cut back any suckers which may develop at ground level; otherwise, little pruning is needed other than to maintain shape. They are not tolerant of areas with extremely high summer temperatures, and their early blossoms may be susceptible to killing frosts in spring. Sour cherries are self-fruitful and do not require a second pollinator plant; however, they are not suitable pollinators for sweet cherry varieties. Expect hungry songbirds to rob fruits from this tree unless covered in a protective netting.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6'-12' / 1.8m - 3.7m

  • Width

    8'-12' / 2.4m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Hybrid Origin, Europe, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single, Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes