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Early Richmond CherryPrunus cerasus ‘Early Richmond’

  • Early Richmond Cherry - Prunus cerasus
  • Early Richmond Cherry
A strong, upright, compact sour cherry tree. Spring white flowers are borne on long pedicels in clusters of 2–4. Sour cherries are less prone to frost, because they are the latest blooming of the stone fruits. The leathery leaves are dark green on top, pale green beneath. It is self fertile and bears without a pollinator in late June. Fruiting begins earlier for sour cherry trees and their productive life is shorter than sweet. A standard cherry tree will produce fruit in 3–5 years. Sour cherries are hardier in cold climates, resistant to drought, and more tolerant of humid rainy conditions than sweet. Prune in late winter or early spring. They are pruned more than sweet cherry trees to stimulate new shoot production. Selective limb thinning may be necessary to maintain adequate light and spur development inside the trees.

Hardiness Zones

The early richmond cherry can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–8. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The standard early Richmond cherry typically grows to a height of about 18' and a spread about 30' at maturity. The dwarf variety grows to a height of about 8' with a spread of about 12–15'.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The early Richmond cherry prefers well-drained, sandy and loamy soil. It has some drought tolerance.


This tree:
  • Should be staked (if dwarf variety) to ensure its ability to bear the weight of the fruit and protect against leaning.
  • Produces bright red, medium-sized, juicy fruit with a thin light red skin and tart flavor -- ideal for pies and preserves.
  • Requires more pruning than sweet cherry trees.
  • Ripens in June, a week earlier than other pie cherries.
  • Is hardier in cold climates and more tolerant of drought, humidity and rainy conditions than sweet cherries.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Begins to bear fruit 3–5 years (standard tree).
  • Blooms in late spring, with clusters of white flowers.
  • Is available in standard and dwarf sizes. Our standard early Richmond seedlings are budded onto Prunus mahalb, and our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (sand cherry).
  • Is self-fertile, but planting 2 or more varieties is recommended for a better crop.
  • Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 700. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
  • Features leathery, elliptic leaves with acute tips that are smooth and dark green on top, measure 3" long and are double-toothed on the margin.

Wildlife Value

The fruit is eaten by many birds and mammals. The foliage is browsed. Flocks of birds are the greatest threat to the trees. They will eat the cherries at the first sign of ripeness. Nylon or cheesecloth netting draped over the trees as the fruits begin to ripen is an effective deterrent. This technique can be very practical if the trees are kept to a reasonable height by pruning.


The origin is unknown, but it was planted in England in the early 1500s. It was brought to the United States with English settlers. The terms tart or pie cherry are preferred over sour since this connotes bad flavor.