TRUCKEE, Calif. — The best street tree in Truckee is an accident. At the far west end of commercial row, next to Spring Street and in front of Heather River’s new BeSpoke, is a beautiful multi-trunked cherry tree. It was originally a half-hardy ornamental flowering cherry but that died and the rootstock grew (that’s how many trees are grown: hardy vigorous rootstock with a wimpy showy scion atop it). The hardy vigorous rootstock, Prunus avium “Mazzard” took off.
Prunus avium means “bird cherry” in Latin (though the common name bird cherry usually refers to Prunus padus, a tough-as-nails chokecherry-like tree). Prunus avium is a wild cherry throughout Europe from Great Britain and Norway to Morocco, Turkey and Iran. It is a common landscape tree in northern Europe.
The cultivated variety (cultivar = c.v.) Mazzard is supposedly self-fertile but this one seldom has fruit. We actually asked one of our growers two years ago to cut down some of their trees in the field and let the Mazzard cherries “sucker-up.” Those should be ready mid-July but this initial crop will be small .
We were on Cottonwood’s deck last week and the waiter told me a man had offered him a $20 tip if he could tell him the name of the white flowering tree he could see at the far end of Commercial Row. I told the waiter that including myself and most of the Villager staff, there was no-one else in town who would have a clue. Now all three of you who read this will know as well.
— Eric Larusson, a co-owner of the Villager Nursery, holds bachelor degrees in molecular biology and agriculture with major studies in botany and horticulture. Villager Nursery, 10678 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, firstname.lastname@example.org.