Saturday, December 30, 2023

Chitalpa tashkentensis, a popular intergeneric hybrid tree

 Chitalpa tashkentensis is a popular flowering and shade tree. It is wide-spread across California and can be found in most landscaping nurseries.

The reason I decided to write about it is that there is a very limited and often erroneous information about this tree (on the English speaking web). I myself got this tree as a 5-6 ft whip in 2001 because I was looking for a flowering tree with fast decomposing leaves. Now, over 20 years later it is a well developed tree that provides light shade for my front yard plants. Below are the day and night pictures from June of 2023.

Only after getting home I checked the tag on this plant and noticed the species name, tashkentensis, which corresponded to the capital city of the country I was born in. Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan. The genus name happened to be a combination of two different genera, Catalpa and Chilopsis. Here I had an intergeneric tree somehow related to Tashkent, now planted in my front yard in California.  I had to figure out why it was named that way.

The searches quickly took to me to the origin of the tree, Tashkent Botanical garden.  However it took me a bit more researching to figure out the Chitalpa's breeder name.  The problem was that there were two great breeders working in this garden, Fedor Rusanov (1895-1979), and later his son Nikolay Rusanov (1938-2017). The most noticeable creations of  Fedor Rusanov are the hybrid hibiscus plants from three American species and his hardy interspecific yucca hybrids.  I will cover the hybrid hibiscus of Fedor Rusanov in another post. 

Now back to Chitalpa. Chitalpa was created by the son, Nikolay Rusanov in 1964 by cross-pollination between Chilopsis linearis and Catalpa bignonioides. I could not find the info on the directionality of his cross(es).  In the end, he selected seven cultivars, five with pink flowers, and two with white flowers. Two selections, 'Pink Down' and 'Morning Cloud' made its way to the US via Robert Hebb of the New York Botanic Garden in 1977. Only in 1991, Thomas Elias and Walter Wisura from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic garden created the name Chitalpa tashkentensis and applied it to both selections. 

This tree is completely sterile and propagated vegetatively through cuttings or root sprouts. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Oregon Exotics Che (Zhe) trees, foliage, fruit production, and processing.

This post describes a pretty uncommon, but a wonderful and an easy-to-grow fruit. The Che fruit (Cudrania tricuspidata, Maclura tricuspidata) originates from China, but not even every Chinese will know it. However, the various parts of this tree are used for centuries in the traditional Eastern medicine. This paper summarizes the traditional uses, the chemical compounds isolated from this tree and their pharmacological activities. 

Majority of people who tasted this fruit, never seen a selection producing the fruits as large as the cultivar Oregon Exotics.  This particular accession was introduced by Jerome Black many years ago and was originally distributed through his (now defunct) nursery Oregon Exotics. The fruits are wonderfully sweet berry ripening in November. I started growing this accession about 7-8 years ago, and had my first harvest in 2018.  The first time I described these fruits in this post in November of 2020

My new Che trees in the new orchard turned out to be great producers just after one year in the ground.  I have not weighed the harvest of 2023, but my estimate is that we picked close to 20 pounds from two small female trees.  These are surrounded by two male trees and I suspect that pollinated fruits hold better and definitely grow larger. 

The leaves on the male trees look abnormally rolled in, and this seems to be typical for this male accession.

The male trees grow more vigorously and taller than the female trees. I posted a video on how different the foliage looks like on male vs female trees:

The birds started damaging the fruits in early October, and by October 15 we put the tulle net over the trees to save the harvest. These berries need to be fully ripe before harvesting, and the netting allowed us to harvest the ripe undamaged fruits. Below is the link to a video from mid October with the netting structure.

Here in the Sacramento Valley, the fruit are getting ready in November. This year I harvested most of the fruits on November 17 and November 18, and the very last batch was harvested on November 25.  In the picture below are the Che fruits along with the very last figs from November 25.

The link below points to my last Che tasting video taken in the orchard on November 18:

These fruits are highly perishable and should be used or processed the same day they were harvested. They are very sweet with chocolaty-watermelon flavors.  Besides consuming them fresh as we would do any other berry, we also juiced them.  The juice can be stored for a few days in the fridge.  

For juicing I used a simple food processor which I also use for pomegranate arils and cut tomatoes. The solids and seeds stay in the crushing bowl, and the juices drain to the large bowl placed under the processor, see the pictures below.
The video link to the YouTube Short showing the process: 

We ended up with a lot of juice and pulp.
The juice is viscous and can be stored for a few days in the fridge.  It’s actually best when consumed cold. Sometimes I add a little of lime juice to Che juice and it becomes a bit brighter.  Otherwise the flavor of Che is intensely sweet with the chocolate and watermelon notes in it.  I like the Che juice without lime better, but my family prefers it with some lime juice. Just use very small amount of lime juice if you want to experiment with it. No more than a teaspoon of lime juice per cup of Che juice.
I also processed the solids after juicing into the fruit leather.  I spread the solids on the wax paper and dried in the oven for 2-3 hours at 170F.  Then I left it overnight in the oven, and dried it again the same way.  Then, I finished the drying outside of the oven for a day.  

The dried leather is mildly sweet and crunchy.  I experimented with adding various flavoring into it, like vanilla extract, lime juice, and cocoa powder.  I liked the lime and cocoa in the dried leather.

I have also froze some amount of fruit in Ziplock bags and planning to juice them later. 

Concluding remarks

I think the main reason why this fruit stays relatively unknown even for the active gardeners is the lack of the easily available rootstocks. Che trees are generally grafted onto the Osage orange seedlings. These are occasionally available from Fruitwood Nursery. Otherwise you would need to grow them yourself using the seeds from the large green balls falling from the Osage Orange trees in fall.  These are commonly planted across California, and can often be found along the county roads.
Last summer I also found out that Osage Orange roots relatively easily from the green cuttings.  We made a number of rootstocks this way, I planted them in the orchard in fall, and they will be grafted in the spring.  This might be a faster way to the production of Che rootstocks.  They become graft-able in under one year. It will be interesting to check if the dormant wood of Osage orange roots too, and I'm planning to test it this winter. 

Normally, you don't want to use Che seedlings as rootstocks as they tent to sprout a lot of suckers. Some people were able to root the Che cuttings too, but the process may not be that efficient, and you will end with many suckers, I heard.

We don't have any extra rootstocks available, but we still have plenty of Oregon Exotics Che scions at and plan to have them every year during our winter and spring sales.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

Storage of cuttings and scions before grafting

 Most scions can be stored for weeks and even months in a ziplock bag placed in fridge (not freezer!). Wrap the scions in a slightly moist paper towel and put them in a well sealed plastic bag. Make sure to replace the paper towel every two weeks, as it will be getting moldy, and this is normal. 

Some scions like avocado, white sapote, cherimoya, loquat do not store well and should be used in under 2 weeks.

Cherry wood (as well as some other Prunus spp. cultivars) can start budding out in the fridge. Make sure to graft cherries as early as you can.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Mulberries in 2023

 The spring and summer of 2023 were very busy for us as we planted over a thousand trees during this time. Only occasionally I took the videos and pictures of the fruits. The mulberries fruited great and we enjoyed them very much.

In the image below starting from top clockwise: DMOR9, Australian Green, Black Prince, Easter Egg. Isfahan is in the middle.

All these are great mulberries with unique flavors. 

Australian Green is honey sweet without any acidity. It’s probably identical to Saharanpur Local and Pakistan White.

Black Prince is a very productive intense flavored berry fruiting later the most. It’s very sweet with some acidity. Highly frost tolerant, originally from Ukraine. The berries also have a better storage life than other mulberries. I planted multiple trees of this cultivar as I think it has a commercial potential for local fruit sales. Below are a couple more pictures of Black Prince from June.

Black Prince will also fruit in a pot at least for a couple years, but you would need to prune it hard as it’s a large tree normally. Below are the fruit on my potted tree before I put the plant into the ground.

Easter Egg is purely sweet but with a floral flavor in them. Great mulberry.

DMOR9 is one of the best flavored long fruited mulberries. Seems to be perfectly frost tolerant in zone 9B.

Below is DMOR9 on the right and Taiwanese Long on the left. These are very similar but have a little different flavors. Taiwanese Long tree is more frost sensitive and the upper canopy was damaged by the frost to about 4 feet from the ground.
Taiwanese Long leaves also have very different form than DMOR9. Here is the berry on a leaf.

Isfahan is very large and fat pure sweet white mulberry. The tree is large and produces abundantly.

Frank is also pure sweet mulberry tinted with lavender.

Shangri La makes large black sweet-sour berries that need to ripen completely to be enjoyable. Some consider this as one of the best flavored mulberries. Very large leaves.

Aussie is a very early wonderful mulberry with extra large berries which are often of irregular form.

Galicia is another mulberry from Ukraine with a great degree of frost tolerance. The berries are large, black, sweet, but relatively mild in the flavor.

My plan for the next spring-summer is to record every mulberry which I still don’t have presented on my blog here or on my YouTube channel. Make sure to check the mulberry videos I have there:

The cuttings of the above described accessions and a number of others are usually available during the sales at

Friday, December 8, 2023

Sorriso di Primavera plum

 Sorriso di Primavera is a very early sweet and flavorful plum with distinctive floral notes. The fruits are medium-large, yellow with orange blush. The pictures below are from June 12, 2023.

The scions of this plum are usually available during the winter sale at

Green Persian Plums

 I have two accession of these early ripening plums, Tabriz and Green Persian. These maybe identical or just similar, as I have not evaluated them in the detail yet. They are usually harvested in May when they are still crunchy and green, and consumed with salt. 

When they are fully ripe, they become yellow and soft.

Most likely these are very similar or identical to the Gojeh Sabz plums occasionally available at some ethnic markets.

The dormant scions of Tabriz and Green Persian plums are usually available during our winter sales at

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Pitanga (Surinam Cherry) Guaruja Red, Update from 2023

 My Guaruja Red tree produced pretty well again this past summer.  The fruits are sweet with some orange-like acidity, the flavor is excellent. Below are the pictures from early June 2023.

The tree is about 12 ft now, and I need a ladder to harvest the fruits.
The scions are usually available during our winter and spring sales at

Sour cherry fruit pictures from late June 2023

 The picture below shows the "true" sour cherries

UZ1 seedling fruits are well attached to the fruit stem and this allows for easy removal of seeds, see below.

Duke (sweet X sour hybrids) cherries in the image below.

The scions from our sour cherry trees are usually available during the winter sales at

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Cuttings sale in December 2023

This posts describes the cuttings sale on in December 2023.

The sale will open at 6 PM PST on December 10.

 1. This year we have not collected the scions in advance, and will cut them "to order". This means that the order shipping might be delayed by the weather conditions. We did our best estimate on the amount we can cut, and we might be able to restock some cultivars after the shipment of early orders.

 2. Some cultivars will not be linked to the descriptions.  There are two opposite reasons for this. The first group are the cultivars which are easily searchable on the web, like many apples, plums, peaches, a couple of Opuntias, etc.  And the other group are cultivars which are novel in the circulation, and we have not evaluated them in the detail yet. These are for the gardeners looking for new gerplasm to test in their conditions. 

 3. Most of the material offered here should be grafted, however, there are some accessions that could be rooted.  We successfully rooted all Elaeagnus species, Kei Apples, sour cherry PV Hybrid #1, Adara plum, and many mulberries.  Here is the post on mulberry rooting abilities you may want to check. This year I also learned that Skinner mulberry could be rooted. If you plan on rooting some material, I would still recommend grafting a piece for a backup. 

All pomegranates root fine.  If you want to graft them, make sure to graft onto strong young shoots.  More about grafting in this post.

All Opuntia pads, as well as grapes will root.

 4. The cuttings length and diameter will depends on the species.  We will supply at least 6 inches long cuttings with at least 3 buds.  A 6 inches long apricot scion can have up to 20 buds, while some vigorous mulberries might have 6-8 inches long internodes.  On average, mulberry cuttings will be longer than avocado, apricots, and feijoa. Some mulberries grow very thick shoots. If you are planning on getting the Himalayan types like Naples, Steve Murray, etc, these maybe up to 1 inch in diameter and will require established rootstocks to graft onto, or prepare yourself for chip budding your smaller rootstocks. I don't know if any of these will root. I assume that they are not easy to root. 

 5. We will offer the wood of white sapote cultivars, some cherimoya, and few other subtropicals in early March. Avocado and pitanga wood will be offered at that time too.

Mulberry Shelli turned out to be a faux one

 Last winter I distributed the scions of Shelli mulberry. I received them from another US mulberry enthusiast. Unfortunately, this summer fruits on this tree proved it to be a faux one. I checked around if anyone has a real Shelli in the US, and could not find any confirmed material. The good thing about this Faux Shelli is that it roots very easily and can be useful for rootstock.  I currently have four trees of this fake Shelli in the ground that will serve as rootstocks. 

If you purchased this accession from me last year, and you would like a refund, please contact me by writing an email to 

Alternatively, if you are placing an order on this season, send me a note when ordering, and I will discount or add a comparable accession.

This is not how Shelli fruits should look:

 The real Shelli makes large black fruits.

Sour Cherry PV Hybrid # 1

 This accession is a complex hybrid between sour cherry Pamjat Vavilova x (P. canescens x P. avium) and might have a potential as a dwarfing rootstock. It roots easily, and the two accessions I grafted onto it grow slowly but bloom profusely. Below are the pictures of the grafs on this tree. The PV Hybrid #1 blooms but never fruited for me. It is partially sterile according to the description I found on the Russian web. The accession was created in Russia. I should have the cuttings at the during the winter sales.

Sour Cherry cv. Almaz

 This is a complex hybrid (Padocerus M X Duke Novoselka X Pamjat Vavilova) resistant to Leaf Spot. The tree is small and produces pink colored large cherries with transparent juice. The hybrid was created in Polland, but the only available picture of the fruits is on a site in Russia, see below

My grafts grow very slowly in my hot climate, and I produced few fruits, but unable to locate my pictures at the moment. If you are interested to test this accession in your conditions, check if I have the scions at

Hybrid Goumi Catherine's Find and its progenies

 There are multiple selections of goumi, Elaeagnus multiflora. However, the selection Catharine's Find is of unclear origin and is probably an interspecific hybrid. It has larger and tastier fruits than the commonly available goumis. I grow it for a number of years. However, the production in my shady yard was minimal so far. It seems, these trees require full sun for good production. I just planted an air layer from my home tree on my new farm and looking forward to harvesting more of these. On the other hand, two seedlings from this accession produced pretty well after just one year on the new farm. Both seedlings have smaller fruits than the mother tree. The picture below shows Catharine's Find (top) and Seedling #2 fruits.

Seedling #1 fruits are smaller than #2, but they are ripening later than #2. Below picture shows their sizes wth #1 fruits on the left.

I will have all three accessions available during the December sale at These could be rooted or grafted onto related Elaeagnus species. 

Elaeagnus latifolia

 I grow two accessions which I named according to the sources they came from. The one I call Chuck, came as a scion from Chuck Chan and most likely the latifolia species. I grafted it onto the goumi tree I already had growing in my yard, and years after I can state that these are fully compatible. This accession also roots easily and I just planted multiple small rooted plants on my new farm.

The Mimosa accession is from the Mimosa nursery in LA. The leaves a little different than Chuck's, the plant didn't have a tag. I was promised large sour fruits when I was buying this plant. This one may or may not be latifolia, but it's certainly a related species. This accession might be s little more frost sensitive but I only noticed a little frost damage on immature leaves after the below freezing temperatures. This didn't affect the plant growing in my yard in Davis, as it is pretty vigorous. This accession also roots but a little slower than the Chuck's accession. I have also planted multiple small rooted plants on my new farm.

Both accessions are growing like shrubs that want to climb on the neighboring trees. None of these bloomed yet for me, and by offering the plant material from both at I hope to hear that the others are more successful to bringing these to production.

On the left side of the picture below is Mimosa, the right is Chuck. Mimosa leaves seem to be a little larger on average. 

Frost tolerance of Himalayan Mulberries

 The past winter of 2023-2024 was the second test for my Himalayan mulberries frost tolerance. I have five two-years old trees of four culti...