A black tartarian cherry (Prunus avium) with an estimated age of 150 years stuns onlookers in Eugene, Oregon, at a height of 60 feet, a crown spread of 80 feet, and the ability to produce small, round, purplish-black cherries, which expert U.P. Hedrick calls "a delight to the palate." The species usually averages 30 feet tall with a crown spread of 12-30 feet.
Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey dedicated the Owen Cherry as an Oregon
State Heritage Tree during Arbor Week in April of 1999. It is the only
State Heritage Tree in Lane County. A young cherry grown from a cutting
was planted next to the venerable tree following the ceremony.
Source: (PDF Flyer)
In 1860, one of Eugene's early settlers planted an orchard not far from the Willamette River. Today, one of the cherries in that old orchard has survived, and grown immense with age. Today, experts recognize it as the biggest cherry in Oregon, and some suggest that it is also the biggest cherry in the U.S. In honor of its size and history, the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee has officially designated it a Heritage Tree.
Most sources identify it as 'Black Tartarian' cherry, a tree with purplish-black cherries that while not large, are exceptionally good. Noted fruit expert U. P. Hedrick called them "a delight to the palate." He judged them "very good to best," a rarified rating few other cherries ever received. The tree had some genetic strengths that has helped it survive so long. 'Black Tartarian' cherries adapt well to a variety of sites, they are vigorous and often grow large, and they have some built-in resistance to a fungus disease called brown-rot that ravages many cherries. TLC by park staffers also helps keep this tree going strong.
Today, the cherry is in vibrant good health. The trunk is very thick, and the wide-spreading branches bear a full canopy of leaves. The tree is particularly nice at bloom time in April. Visit if you can, or check it out on the park's webcam. Access both through the City of Eugene home page, (visit link
) then use the "Site Search" function to navigate (their web design does not allow direct links). On the webcam, the Cherry is the large tree in the distance in the middle of the oval lawn.
The tree lives in Owen's Rose Garden, (visit link
) which is south of the Willamette River and west of I-105 at the north end of Jefferson Street in Eugene.
Source: * Oregon Travel Information Council, Guide to Oregon Historical Markers and Heritage Trees, Salem, 1999.