Prunus avium - gean, mazzard, wild cherry

The gean is usually a non-suckering fruit and forest tree which grows larger than the familiar sour cherry of gardens. Even in Finland it grows to 5-10m. The trunk is red-brown and shiny with decorative horizontal grooves, the bark exfoliating in horizontal strips. The branches are erect, in contrast to the drooping branches of the sour cherry. The gean flowers coincidentally with leaf break, in white clusters. The fruit is usually dark red but sometimes yellow, even almost black, either sweet or slightly bitter. In the wild the berries are about finger-tip size but on selected varieties noticeably larger. These are the cherries that are sold in summer in Finnish markets, though they are usually imported from southern Europe or even Turkey.

The gean is rather frost tender in Finland. It can only be recommended with any confidence for growing in Ahvenanmaa or on the south coast, though some favourable reports have come from further inland. Of a test batch received at Mustila from central Sweden in the 1990s, 5 handsome trees still survive.

In Sweden there are small plantations of the gean with sturdy trunks, grown for use by craftsmen. For fruit production, the species has been developed for hundreds of years producing hundreds of different cherry types, the hardiest of which can be tried in Finland. With a view to fruit production, the hardiest types are probably from Sweden, Belorussia, Russia, or the Baltic states.


Lehtipuut ja -pensaat