If you’re interested in expanding your gardening to fruit trees, you can’t go wrong with the Lapins cherry tree. Also marketed commercially as the “Cherokee,” this tree produces some of the largest and juiciest sweet cherries that a home gardener can grow.
However, the Lapins cherry tree isn’t just about flavorful fruit. This beautiful tree is also stunningly decorative. Whether you want delicious cherries or a gorgeous landscape tree, the Lapins cherry tree may be just what you’ve been dreaming of. Let’s dive in and learn all about one of the most popular cherry trees.
History of the Lapins Cherry Tree
The Lapins cherry tree has a fascinating backstory. Researchers at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada wanted to produce a cherry similar to the Bing cherry, but they wanted their cherry to have improvements over the Bing.
To create their new cherry tree, the researchers used the Stella and Van cultivars to create a hybrid tree that would have vast improvements over other cherry trees.
How the Lapins Cherry Tree Got Its Name
The legendary agronomist and university professor Karlis (Charles) O. Lapins did pioneering work developing cherry cultivars that are self-fertile. Lapins was instrumental in developing the new cherry tree and other meritorious fruit varieties, so the new cherry tree was named in his honor.
The Lapins cherry tree was released in 1983, thirty years after Dr. Lapins retired.
The Lapins cherry tree has had the distinction of being awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Incidentally, only six other varieties of sweet cherries have ever received this award.
Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics
The Lapins cherry tree produces some of the juiciest and largest sweet cherries. These incredible cherries can grow up to one inch in size. Moreover, this tree offers multi-seasonal interest.
- Early in the season, this tree will reward you with brilliant white blossoms that attract droves of bees and butterflies to your yard.
- During the harvest season, the tree will produce large, sweet fruit that is dark red to purple in color and has gorgeous light red flesh.
- Then, in the autumn, the tree will give you gorgeous fall-colored leaves of red, orange, and yellow.
Lapins cherries have been bred to reduce splitting, These cherries are popular late-season cherries and they ripen about two weeks after Bing cherries. If you’re growing both varieties, having a Lapins cherry tree in your orchard extends your cherry harvest.
The Lapins cherry tree grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, although some retailers suggest that this tree can also grow in Zone 9.
Size and Spacing
If you have a small yard, we recommend choosing a tree that was grown on dwarf rootstock because the Lapins cherry tree is a big tree. At full height, the standard variety of this tree can grow to be up to 15 feet wide and 40 feet tall.
Plant your cherry tree in late winter in a hole that is between two and three times the original container’s diameter. If you’re planting more than one tree, space the trees as indicated below.
- Standard: 18-25 feet
- Semi-Dwarf: 15-18 feet
- Dwarf: 8-14 feet
The Lapins cherry tree is self-fertile and self-pollinating, which means you don’t need a second tree for pollination. This is useful for gardeners with limited space who would prefer not to turn their backyards into mini-orchards.
Another benefit of having a Lapins cherry tree in your orchard is that this tree can serve as an excellent pollinator for other varieties of cherry trees. For example, this tree is perfect for pollinating Bing cherry trees.
While the Lapins cherry tree can greatly extend the harvest season, Lapins cherries need to be harvested in early maturity. Also, the fruit should be carefully handled after harvest.
Lapins cherries grow best in fertile soil that has good drainage. If you need to improve your soil, you can add four inches of organic matter. Any of the following will give you a good start to improved soil.
- Aged manure
- Grass clippings
- Leaf mold
- Sphagnum peat
This cherry tree thrives in full sun but can produce well in partial sun. For maximum growth and fruit production, avoid planting your tree on the northern side of tall buildings.
After planting your tree, deeply water the roots so that your root ball is moistened evenly. Water your tree thoroughly around the roots, then allow the water to drain well. After the first watering, give it a second deep watering.
Your tree will need about one inch of water every week. One way to make sure your tree is getting sufficient water is by placing a rain gauge beside the tree in the ground. If needed, supplement rainfall with watering.
For retaining moisture, you can spread two to three inches of organic mulch around the root system. Be sure to keep a few inches around the tree’s trunk mulch-free. You can use any of these to mulch your tree.
- Leaf mold
- Shredded bark
Pruning the Lapins cherry tree properly can help reduce problems with badly pitted fruit. Correct pruning will balance the crop load and lead to an overall better quality harvest.
Diseases & Care
This is important: If you need to apply pesticide, do so when the blossoms are in the stage of pre-blooming, full bloom, or when 75% of the tree’s petals have dropped. Never use pesticides on a cherry tree when your trees are bearing fruit.
Common Uses For the Lapins Cherry Tree
Above all, the Lapins cherry tree produces delicious fruit. However, it’s also an extraordinarily decorative landscape tree.
What Do Lapins Cherries Taste Like?
Admirers say that Lapins cherries are incredibly juicy and sweet. Although some cherry varieties aren’t sweet when they’re still red, Lapins cherries are deliciously sweet.
If you can find these cherries at markets, grab them up and make tasty pies, cobblers, and more. You can enjoy a nearly unlimited variety of recipes for cherries, from jams and syrups to pies and cobblers.
All varieties of sweet cherries are some of the most enjoyable fruits to eat raw. However, be sure not to swallow the pits. Here’s an excellent video that shows you how to eat raw cherries.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
When it comes to preserving fruit, cherries are one of the most versatile foods. Here are some of the ways you can preserve Lapins cherries.
Before using any method for preserving cherries, wash them well and dry them by patting gently with paper towels. Be sure to remove the pits before preserving them.
Recipes for Lapins Cherries
One of our favorite want to enjoy cherries is Amaretto Cherries. If you buy them at a delicacy store, they’re quite pricey. However, with a cherry harvest, you can easily make your own.
Lapins cherries famously make a delicious cherry pie filling, and cherry pies are a staple of the holiday season.
Here are some more favorite recipes for Lapins cherries.
- Cherry Cobbler
- Cherry Muffins
- Berries and Cherries Ice Cream Cake
- Coconut Cherry Smoothie
- Heirloom Tomatoes with Cherries, Balsamic, and Hyssop
In this YouTube video, a gentleman shows us exactly how to make Dark Ruby Cherry Jam, step-by-step.
Health Benefits of the Lapins Cherry Tree
Like most cherry varieties, Lapins cherries have impressive health benefits.
Lapins cherries are high in vitamin C and fiber. They also provide your body with potassium, copper, and manganese.
Rich in Anti-Inflammatory Compounds and Antioxidants
Cherries are high in plant chemicals that can help reduce inflammation, fight cellular damage, and promote overall wellness and health.
May Benefit Heart Health
Cherries are rich in compounds and nutrients that are known to help regulate blood pressure and promote heart health.
For more information, check out our guide to “The Health Benefits of Lapins Cherries.”
Where To Buy This Fruit Tree?
You can buy Lapins cherry trees at Nature Hills Nursery online. They sell the trees in a #3 container.
Note that on the website, the company says that they run out of this tree every year, so be sure to order as soon as you’re ready to plant.
Where To Buy the Fruit
It can be difficult to find Lapins cherries in grocery stores and produce markets, but if you time it just right, you may be able to find them.
To ensure that you can enjoy delectable Lapins cherries, it’s best to grow your own. Alternatively, in some areas, you can find farms that will allow you to pick cherries for a fee.
Wrapping up the Lapins Cherry Tree
The Lapins cherry tree is a wonderful addition to any yard or orchard. You will enjoy the beauty of this tree as a landscape tree that decorates your yard through every season, and you will also be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of late-season cherries.