Black Republican Cherry

Ark of taste
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Black Republican Cherry

The Black Republican cherry is relatively small in size, with a rotund shape, deep purple color, firm flesh and intense black cherry flavor. Although it was highly regarded by many growers, it lost favor because of its smaller size and tendency to be slightly astringent when not fully ripe. It is a parent of the Bing cherry, which has long superseded it in commercial cultivation. In the past, the Black Republican was favored for use in black cherry ice cream and yogurt because its color and flavor carried through. Complex and earthy, the rotund, deep purple fruit has notes of herbs, rose and almond. In some cases it still may be found frozen for industrial food productions. Only rarely is it available fresh. Today, Black Republican cherry plantings are rare, with about 200 acres remaining in older and smaller orchards in the Dales and Hood River growing districts of Oregon, but also, to a lesser extent, in Washington, California and eastern states. Black Republican is now mainly used as a pollinator in cherry orchards for other varieties. To lose the Black Republican cherry would be a tragedy both from a historical perspective and a gastronomical one. It is a connoisseur’s cherry that has a rich, concentrated flavor despite its small size. This cherry ripens late and is considered a good keeper, shipping and drying well. The Black Republican is a connoisseur’s cherry. Although modest in size, it has a rich, concentrated flavor that is both dense and complex, with notes of rose, herbs and almond. It has the powerful, classic black cherry flavor that “black cherry flavoring” aspires to. It is highly colored, firmly textured and juicy, which makes it ideal for preserving and exceptional for eating fresh, when fully ripe. This cherry is representative of a pivotal period in the beginning of the fruit industry of the Pacific Northwestern states. In 1860 the first Black Republican cherry was grown in the Willamette Valley in Oregon by Seth Lewelling. Seth had come to join his brother Henderson Luelling from Iowa, via the California gold fields in 1850. Both were nurserymen, Quakers and abolitionists, who were said to have participated in the underground railway. Henderson Luelling brought his family in a wagon to the Oregon Territory in 1847 with nursery stock to begin his trade there. It is said that while others traveling the same route were attacked by local tribes, the Luelling family was spared because of their wagon filled with trees. These trees formed the basis of the Pacific Northwest fruit industry. In 1853 Henderson Luelling moved his family to Alameda, California where he established Fruitvale, and a new nursery. Seth maintained the Lewelling nursery in Milwaukie, Oregon, now a suburb of Portland, until his death in 1879.*In historical accounts, the spelling of the brothers’ name varies.

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Territory

StateUnited States
Region

Oregon