The English Morello cherry tree, Prunus cerasus ‘English Morello, is a variety of sour cherry tree that grows well in the United States. It’s a late-blooming tree and is high-producing, growing clusters of deep red fruit that ripen in mid-summer. Its fruit is sour, making it ideal for cooked applications like jams and jellies.
Additionally, this ornamental keep visual interest in all four seasons, transitioning from long, lightly toothed green leaves, to rich fall colors, to shiny, brown-gray bark for the winter months. And of course, there’s the dazzling display every summer when the tree’s flowers open.
In this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the English Morello cherry tree, its history, and some ways you can help this gorgeous tree thrive in your landscape.
History of the English Morello Cherry Tree
English Morello cherry trees were first introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s. Though it originated in England/Europe, its exact origins are obscure.
It is, however, part of the classification of ‘sour cherry’ trees, which are native to much of Southwest Asia and Europe. These are closely related to the well-known ‘sweet cherry’ varieties, but the fruit they produce is considerably more acidic which still remaining edible by humans.
English Morello Cherry Tree Characteristics
English Morello cherry trees grow to a height of around 20 feet, but pruning can keep the tree considerably shorter if you prefer it that way. These trees are highly ornamental and retain visual interest year-round, with the crowning season of course being the spring, when the tree’s flowers bloom into a dazzling display that lasts an exceptionally long period of time.
English Morello cherries are smaller than your average sweet cherry, and have a dark-red, near-black skin. The fruit is firm and filled with sour, dark red juice. The picking period lasts about a week and may stretch into June or even July!
English Morello cherry trees do well in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9. They are cold hardy, but require full sun. They can also tolerate some shade in the hotter regions of the map.
For more on planting zones and where this tree thrives, check out our post on How To Grow The English Morello Cherry Tree.
Size and Spacing
English Morello cherry trees can grow to a mature height of 15 to 20 feet, and can be kept smaller with careful pruning. Be careful to give your English Morello plenty of room from other trees and the sides of your house when you first plant it.
Luckily, the English Morello cherry tree is self-fruitful, which means you’ll only need one to produce a bountiful harvest. They’re also great pollinators for other trees as well.
English Morello cherry trees require at least 6 hours of full sun in order to thrive. They can also tolerate some shading in the warmer areas of the planting zones.
English Morello cherry trees should be watered deeply every other day on the first week after planting. On the second week, water deeply two to three times a week. Water thoroughly once a week throughout the rest of the first season.
Outside of this, it’s important to keep the soil moist without drowning the roots. Spreading three inches of mulch around the base of the tree, leaving it about six inches from the trunk, will help retain moisture.
Pruning away dead, dying, or diseased branches is always the best idea for the overall health of the tree. Clip these sorts of branches as soon as you notice there’s a problem. Aside from this, your English Morello cherry tree shouldn’t need much attention and can be pruned to a shorter height if that’s more convenient for you.
It’s also important to maintain an open canopy. This lets light and air circulation into the interior of the branch structure and will help keep the tree healthy.
For more on pruning, see our post on Pruning The English Morello Cherry Tree.
Diseases and Care
Rot, spot, and knot diseases are common to cherry trees, so it’s best to be on the lookout for them. These trees can also be susceptible to powdery milder and cankers of the trunk.
For more on possible diseases your tree may contract and what you can do about them, see our post on Elglish Morello Cherry Tree Diseases and Care.
Common Uses for the English Morello Cherry
Taste: English Morello cherries have a rich, sour taste, with a shiny, dark red to near black skin and firm dark red flesh. Their taste holds up well to cooking, making them a favorite in the UK for jellies and jams.
Cooking: English Morello cherries hold up well to cooking and are great for making jams, jellies, and other confections.
Eating Raw: English Morello cherries are safe to eat off the tree and many people like the taste of fresh sour cherries straight off the branch.
Canning / Freezing / Drying: English Morello cherries take well to being preserved to be used later in pies, tarts, and smoothies. Their low sugar content makes them less than ideal for drying, but it can still be done.
Health Benefits of English Morello Cherries
Tart cherry juice has many health benefits including:
- May promote brain health
- May help you sleep better
- May reduce symptoms of gout and arthritis
- May strengthen the immune system
For more on the overall health benefits of cherries, check out our post: The Health Benefits of Cherries.
Where to Buy The English Morello Cherry Tree?
If you’re in the market for an English Morello cherry tree, you can find one at Nature Hills Nursery. They give plenty of information on the best ways to help your tree thrive as well.
Where to Buy English Morello Cherries
Many specialty and more common shops sell English Morello cherries, either whole or as jams, jellies, or preserves. It may also be possible to find English Morello cherries at your local farmer’s market if you have a few local growers.
English Morello Cherry Facts / FAQ
Where are English Morello cherry trees from?
The sour cherry tree is native to parts of Europe and southwest Asia, but the origins of the English Morello cherry tree are largely obscure.
Can you eat English Morello cherries?
Yes. While sour, English Morello cherries are perfectly edible for humans, birds, and other small animals. Their strong, sour taste makes them perfect for cooked applications such as jams and jellies.
Is the English Morello cherry tree self-fruitful?
Yes. The English Morello cherry tree is self-fruitful, meaning that you only need one tree for a bountiful harvest! That said, it plays well with other pollinator trees and having them around can increase its yield.
Wrapping up The English Morello Cherry Tree
The English Morello cherry tree is a beautiful ornamental with a dazzling display of spring blossoms and visual interest all year round. The tree transitions from long, dark-green leaves in the summer months to yellow and orange leaves in the fall before winter makes its brown-gray bark stand out.
The English Morello cherry tree is a popular tree in the UK for making jams and jellies and also grows well in the United States. This late-blooming tree is high-producing, forming clusters of dark red fruit which are edible to humans, as well as birds and other small animals.
It grows to an average height of between 15 and 20 feet and can be pruned to a smaller size. Aside from basic maintenance pruning and maintaining an open canopy for proper sun and air circulation, the tree requires very little in order to stay healthy. This helps make it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers as well.
Because English Morello cherry trees adapt well to pruning, you can even plant several of them as a small hedge. Planting several in a small orchard will give you an intense spring display and heavy harvest. These trees grow best when planted in rich, loamy, well-drained soil. An over-abundance of water at the roots can lead to root rot.
The English Morello cherry tree might just become your new favorite tree. This late-blooming tree produces a vibrant display in the spring, holds visual interest in your landscaping design all year round, and provides bunches of healthy fruit for all of your baking and cooking needs. Add a beautiful and functional English Morello cherry tree to your yard today!