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The sexual quirks of cherry trees

Siamese-twin cherries explained

Dear Matthew Alice: Now that cherry season is here, I have to know where those “Siamese twin” cherries come from — the ones that have a single stem but two cherries stuck together. — J. Moore, Coronado

We’ve meddled with the genetics of the cherry tree enough that some of the resulting cultivars exhibit a few sexual quirks. Ordinarily, a cherry blossom has only one pistil, the structure through which the pollen bores to reach the ovary in the base of the bud that eventually becomes a fat, juicy cherry. One bud, one pistil, one fruit is how it goes — on paper, at least. But a few of the sweet cherry varieties, including two popular fresh-market cultivars, Napoleon and Bing, occasionally freak out when the weather is hot at budding time and produce some flowers with two pistils. One bud, two pistils, two cherries jammed together. Sometimes the second fruit is undeveloped and remains a small dark nub near the base of the stem. Strictly speaking, these twinned fruits are considered unacceptable for market, but small-fruit harvesting and grading is a tedious job, and double cherries will find their way into the produce bin.

Another sexual quirk of cherry trees is their inability to pollinate themselves. Growers must plant a carefully planned pattern of two compatible varieties to make sure they have any fruit at all. No wonder those succulent little devils are so expensive by the time they get to us.

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Dear Matthew Alice: Now that cherry season is here, I have to know where those “Siamese twin” cherries come from — the ones that have a single stem but two cherries stuck together. — J. Moore, Coronado

We’ve meddled with the genetics of the cherry tree enough that some of the resulting cultivars exhibit a few sexual quirks. Ordinarily, a cherry blossom has only one pistil, the structure through which the pollen bores to reach the ovary in the base of the bud that eventually becomes a fat, juicy cherry. One bud, one pistil, one fruit is how it goes — on paper, at least. But a few of the sweet cherry varieties, including two popular fresh-market cultivars, Napoleon and Bing, occasionally freak out when the weather is hot at budding time and produce some flowers with two pistils. One bud, two pistils, two cherries jammed together. Sometimes the second fruit is undeveloped and remains a small dark nub near the base of the stem. Strictly speaking, these twinned fruits are considered unacceptable for market, but small-fruit harvesting and grading is a tedious job, and double cherries will find their way into the produce bin.

Another sexual quirk of cherry trees is their inability to pollinate themselves. Growers must plant a carefully planned pattern of two compatible varieties to make sure they have any fruit at all. No wonder those succulent little devils are so expensive by the time they get to us.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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