To get a sweet cherry tree (Prunus avium) to produce fruit, pollen must pass from the male portion of the blossom, the stamen, to the female portion of the flower, the pistil. Pollinating insects help by transferring the pollen from one blossom part to another. Sweet cherry trees, such as “Bing,” require pollen from a different cherry cultivar nearby to make fruit. These are known as pollinizers. Both insects and other cherry varieties are considered pollinators of “Bing” cherry.
“Bing” Cherry Trees
Named for the foreman, Ah “Bing,” in Seth Lewelling’s 19th century Oregon fruit tree nursery, the “Bing” cherry is the most common sweet cherry cultivar. The tree grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8 and reaches heights up to 20 feet. It produces small, white flower clusters and dark red, sweet, juicy fruit, suitable for fresh eating and cooking. “Bing” cherry trees require well-drained soil and regular watering, as they are susceptible to root diseases.
Although “Bing” cherry blossoms have both male and female structures, they are unable to fertilize themselves. The tree requires other cultivars and insects to move the pollen to the “Bing” cherry tree. Conversely, sour cherry varieties are self-fruitful, meaning that they can produce fruit with pollen, transferred by insects, from flowers on precisely the exact same tree. Sour cherry varieties can offer pollen for “Bing” cherries if their bloom periods coincide.
For cherry pollinizers to pollinate “Bing” cherry trees, they must be in bloom at precisely the exact same moment. They have to also be planted close together to ensure that insects visit each tree. Several cultivars with overlapping bloom times are suitable for “Bing” pollinization such as “Lapins,” “Stella,” “Black Tartarian,” “Black Republican,” “Van,” “Sam” and “Windsor.”
Pollen goes from flower to blossom with the help of an agent such as water, insects, mammals and birds. The most frequent agents for pollination are insects, particularly mammals. The highly concentrated, sugary scent of sweet cherry blossoms attracts honeybees, as does the pollen. For each excursion a bee makes to a place with cherry trees, it can visit over 400 flowers. Once bees find a good food source, they will return repeatedly, making them a significant cherry pollinator.