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Chinese Che fruit tree (can be grafted onto Osage Orange)

 
pollinator
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How about updates on the chi trees?

Mine is very healthy but not growing very fast. It’s only about 2’ tall.  The Japanese beetles were near it but never touched it.  Hopefully, the leaves taste bad.
 
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Ken W Wilson wrote:My Hardy Chicago is dying back each year. Last year, it got 8 feet tall and produced about 30 before freezing. It’s got about 8 trunks. I broke the tips off most of them to hopefully help more ripen before frost.



How thick is your thickest trunk?  I have this wild theory that if the wood gets big enough, it will improve the hardiness of the tree; and that the amount of tree it can grow in a single season is a function of how much root system is established plus some handwavium fudge factor for head start that it might get after an excessively mild winter.  
 
Dan Boone
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Ken W Wilson wrote:How about updates on the chi trees?



I have made no progress with chi trees.  I lost a year last year on all my tree projects due to other priorities and my one effort to germinate a bunch of that bulk chi seed I bought failed.  And then I stored the chi seed badly (in a warm place) and I guess it had a lot of moisture in it; when I pulled it out this year, it had a cracked/popped appearance like it had all germinated in the package and then died.  Because there is so much of it I still need to bulk seed it somewhere and see if a few sports come up.  But I got demoralized, honestly.

 
Ken W Wilson
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Dan, your theory sounds correct. Every year it grows faster and gets taller. We had some late cold weather this year, so I’m not sure how big it will get.

I think the thickest new wood is about 1.5 inches. I’ve got about one foot of older wood, about two inches.

The older wood is supposed to be hardier but thicker new wood also seems to be.
 
Ken W Wilson
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What variety of figs, Dan?

If I ever get Chi fruit, I’m going to look into crossing it with a mulberry. I wonder if it’s possible?
 
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I have a couple che that are two years old from Edible Landscaping. Both have fruit on them, but still green (so they may be lacking potassium or calcium, my soil is still a work in progress).

First, when given adequate moisture, they grow FAST! Both got to be so big that I had to prune them the first year, they were well over 6' tall. One had an osage orange shoot coming up from the base, which I pruned off and stuck in some mulch last winter without rooting hormone, and it rooted. So it appears that osage orange is pretty easy to propagate vegetatively. This summer unfortunately the chickens ate all the leaves off and I will have to repeat the process.

Second, and more interesting, is that I did the same thing with the prunings from the che shoots. About half also leafed out this spring too. And then the chickens ate the leaves and killed them as well.

So here's the deal, since you chuckleheads have lasted through this thread, I am willing to send some hardwood cuttings for you to experiment on from the che. I will probably have about eight that are the right size for grafting and rooting.

Time starts ..... now!


And gone! Will send them your way dan. PM me in maybe December, I will be out of the country and won't be able to get them prior.  My super scientific method is to stick them into a hugel with relatively old chips covering- at least a year old. I root most of my hardwood cuttings that way, anytime after they are dormant, preferably early. I have modestly better success with rooting hormone but I believe Stalin may have had it right- "Quantity has a quality all its own." I just stick a whole bunch in there. I suspect grafting will be highly successful. Let me know your results. I was just getting ready to move the rooted stuff when the chickens got them.

This was fun, maybe I will make a list of cuttings and offer them as treats on here.
 
Dan Boone
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Well now, that’s interesting and generous. I will cheerfully paypal whatever you think postage will be for sending the cuttings.

As an experiment this spring I took about twenty Osage Orange cuttings (both first year and older growth) and tried to root them in water with rooting hormone.  None of them rooted. Now I’ve got to try the mulch method.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Dan- winner winner. See edit above, will get them out when it seems like a good idea. I'm doing some scion exchanges this year so probably when I am prepping for that.
 
Dan Boone
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Ken W Wilson wrote:What variety of figs, Dan?



My labelling has failed over the years in some cases so I can’t always say which is what, but accessions include Missions bought from a local farm store that were supposedly raised from cuttings off a locally successful tree I have not seen, a gifted Chicago Hardy in a pot, a Brown Turkey that I think my dogs dug up and ate, and a bunch that I raised from a bag of mixed-variety cuttings sourced from a California Ebay seller. The tallest one previously described is a Brunswick that I think started from the CA cuttings.  There were also some seedlings from a variety sourced as seed via Ebay from Greece but they were, as expected, tender, and none have survived. As you can tell my scheme is less “order known hardy varieties” and more “scrounge cheap or promising genetic material to throw at wall and see what sticks.”
 
Dan Boone
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Tj Jefferson wrote:PM me in maybe December, I will be out of the country and won't be able to get them prior.  My super scientific method is to stick them into a hugel with relatively old chips covering- at least a year old. I root most of my hardwood cuttings that way, anytime after they are dormant, preferably early. I have modestly better success with rooting hormone but I believe Stalin may have had it right- "Quantity has a quality all its own." I just stick a whole bunch in there. I suspect grafting will be highly successful. Let me know your results.



I can do that! Thanks. I’ve set a phone reminder to beep me in December.  I’ve got a five year old pile of ramial wood chips that’s almost soil now, should be just the thing. Though I may have to make up a tub where I fudge the moisture if we are having a dry winter.  This will be a fun experiment!
 
Ken W Wilson
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Does anyone have a good picture of a leaf? I'm not quite sure if I've got Che, Osage Orange or a chimera.  I can't find a good picture online. I don't think they quite look like OO, but they aren't that different.

Dan Boone, I can send cuttings of my Hardy Chicago fig if you want to try it? Not sure when is the best time to cut them.  I planted Marseilles last spring. I'm not sure how hardy it is yet.
 
Dan Boone
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Dan Boone, I can send cuttings of my Hardy Chicago fig if you want to try it? Not sure when is the best time to cut them.



I think I have Chicago Hardy *somewhere* in the mix of attempts on the property, if it didn't get neglected in a pot and die, but I would be grateful for cuttings.  I don't know the best time to take them, but my instinct would be to take them in the late fall, after light frost has dropped all your leaves and put the plant into dormancy but before heavy freeze has had a chance to kill the wood you are going to take for cuttings anyway.  
 
Ken W Wilson
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Dan, if you’ll send a message with your address, I’ll send them in about a month. You might remind me.

I can send some to a few more people, if anyone wants them.
 
Dan Boone
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Meanwhile I have an interesting dilemma.  I may, or I may not, have a double handful of chest-high young Che trees.  (Edit/Update: looks like not.)

How could I not know?

Well, as Ken points out, good pictures are hard to find online.  So let me walk you through how I got to here.

A couple of years ago I got fed up with smaller-scale failed efforts and ordered an ounce of Che seed (about 1200 seeds).  Then in the spring of 2017 I had to travel and I stored the seed badly instead of planting it; much of it germinated in the package, cracking open like popcorn.  Oh, the humanity.

This spring (really, late last winter) I dropped a couple of tablespoons of the "spoiled" seed into specific spots on my property, hoping that there might still be a few viable seeds in there.  But I also planted other tree seeds and annuals in those spots.  Nothing much happened; we had unusually wet weather and waist high weeds and prairie grasses grew over those areas.  

Now as fall approaches, the weeds and grasses are starting to die back, and in two of those spots there's this sudden explosion of two clumps of tree seedlings of a type of tree I do not recognize.    On a few of the stems, in addition to the unfamiliar leaves, there are also some distinctively mulberry-patterned leaves.

So there are two possibilities as I see it:

1) I've got some new mulberry trees, due to:

   a) bird or animal deposition of mulberry seeds/fruit from any of several wild fruiting mulberries on the property, including one about 300 feet away; or
   b) me having included mulberry seeds from wherever (probably eBay) in my "let's go scatter tree seeds today" expedition late last winter and then forgotten about it. (It's likely that I would have forgotten, but unlikely that I ever had enough surplus mulberry seeds to do that with.)

or

2) I've got some new Che seedling trees.  But only if Che trees sometimes have mulberry-pattern leaves.  Which is not inconceivable, given the closely-related nature of the species.  

I'll find out in due time.  But meanwhile, this is an invitation to TJ or anybody else with Che trees to look at my photos and let me know if they look like any Che you ever saw.
tree-01.jpg
mytery tree
mytery tree
tree-02.jpg
leaf cluster
leaf cluster
tree-03.jpg
stem, leaf base, and bud structure
stem, leaf base, and bud structure
tree-04.jpg
leaf comparison
leaf comparison
 
Dan Boone
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Dan, if you’ll send a message with your address, I’ll send them in about a month.



Done, thanks!
 
Ken W Wilson
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I posted a leaf picture on a Facebook botany group. They said it is Che.
2ED17AA0-B66A-4BDF-AB81-D87AB0F80976.jpeg
che leaf
che leaf
 
Dan Boone
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Nice!

And meanwhile, I went and took a close look at the big wild mulberry tree that's not so very far away from my volunteer seedlings.  It's got about an even mix of leaves that are in the classic mulberry pattern and ones that look like the pointed ovals I posted above.  So I think I have bird-volunteered mulberry seedlings here, not planted che, especially since my leaves look nothing like yours.  

Thanks for posting that pic!
 
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Just Fruits and Exotics, a mail order nursery in Florida, sells several cultivars of che under the name "melonberry".
 
Ken W Wilson
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My three year old tree has some tiny green fruit.  I hope I at least get to taste them this year. I read they sometimes drop their fruit for a few years.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Anyone care to update? Get any fruit last fall?

Any seedlings up?

I’ve got some small green fruit in now. Not a lot. I hope it doesn’t drop them .  I’d really like to get to taste them this year. I went out to get a picture, but the light wasn’t good enough, maybe tomorrow.
 
Mike Turner
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Mine has a good crop of fruit, but, like mulberries, they disappear as soon as they start to turn red.  Don't know if birds or squirrels are the guilty culprit.  Che are one of those fruit that are insipid until they are fully ripe.
 
Ken W Wilson
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When do they start to ripen?
 
Mike Turner
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Here in upstate SC they have been turning red for the past 2 weeks.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Thanks Mike! That’s good to know. For some reason I thought they ripened in the fall. I better go check them. There are only around ten but I’d like to get to taste them.
 
Mike Turner
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My che tree is still producing fruit, but it is like a mulberry  where the fruit is very attractive to the birds and they eat most of the fruit before it fully ripens on the tree.  The fruit has the color, shape, and general appearance of a red raspberry, but is less juicy.  The initial flavor is pleasantly melonish, but then after about 5 seconds, a bad aftertaste kicks in which ruins the eating experience.  Overall, between the huge thorns, the off-tasting fruit, and its suckering habit, for me the tree comes out as a negative, great for bird forage, but not a good candidate for the backyard orchard.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Mike, I wonder if you have a different plant. If so I want it! Our Che just finished fruiting and the bird totally ignore it. I will have more hardwood cuttings this fall, and two out of eight rooted. I had a rough year grafting them but if you want some I can mail them in payment for your sheep input!
 
Ken W Wilson
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Mine had about ten fruit for the first time, but they either fell off or something ate them. I didnt get to even taste one.

I don’t think my tree has any thorns. So they usually have thorns?
 
Tj Jefferson
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Ken there is a Che that is sold here that is thornless and reportedly does not require a pollinator. I have one I bought from a crappy online source that has huge spikes and hasn’t fruited, which suggests it’s a male or needs a male. I’m guessing is a male because I’ve seen no vestigial fruit dropped.
 
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I have a couple of Che growing in my front yard. They are still only sticks in the ground but seem to be doing well.
I bought these from Cliff England in Kentucky (England's Nursery) and have always been happy with his products.
One of them is a Norris found in Tennessee and the other is a Hwang Kum.  
Here is a comparison of leaves from Osage Orange and the Norris Che.
20191026_083015.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20191026_083015.jpg]
Osage left and Che right
 
Dennis Bangham
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Ken there is a Che that is sold here that is thornless and reportedly does not require a pollinator. I have one I bought from a crappy online source that has huge spikes and hasn’t fruited, which suggests it’s a male or needs a male. I’m guessing is a male because I’ve seen no vestigial fruit dropped.


TJ,  
Englands carries scions of Che. < www.nuttress.net > .  He has many varieties if you want to try some new and he also has Norris.  
Email him and request his up to date scion list. He has a boatload of scions from many different fruit trees.
 
Ken W Wilson
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What are the advantages of the named varieties? Did they select for flavor or early maturity or something else?
 
Dennis Bangham
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My two trees are sticks right now and I have never tasted a Che.  I have been told that they need to be very ripe before they taste good otherwise they have no taste.
THe Hwang Kum, I was told has a longer season to ripen and where I got these they do not ripen enough before first frost.
Outside of different harvest dates I cannot say if they have a different taste.  I suspect it may be like many fruits that in one area (or environment) they taste fantastic and another not so much.
 
Tj Jefferson
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I’m interested in the quality of the fruit. I would be hard pressed to pay those prices for scion wood. If it’s really good... yeah I would pay for it. I will have scion wood from mine again this fall to a good home. They are ok. Nothing bothers the plant or fruit but it’s low on my list in terms oftaste.
 
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