Ark of Taste
Prunus avium v. “Emmett’s”
This variety is an heirloom with over one hundred and thirty years of history. It is fantastically unusual with a very dark purple, almost black flesh and a sweet, complex flavor. The mother tree produces in excess of 300 pounds of incredible fruit, annually.
The Felix Gillet Institute has yet to positively identify the variety of the tree; however, it is an amazing old tree, now named after the owner of the property. The fruit ripens about two weeks later than other sweet cherries at the same elevation. It was planted between 1880 and 1907 when Felix Gillet, a young Frenchman, realized that miners arriving in California in the wake of the Gold Rush desperately needed food, and imported many new varieties of fruit and nut trees from Europe. Gillet opened his Barren Hill Nursery in 1871, in Nevada City, California, the epicenter of the Gold Rush, and began selling his favorite varieties. As of 2015, his last remaining cherry tree is a very healthy, very productive 40-foot tall tree with a 3-4 foot trunk diameter. Other miners, ranchers and homesteaders of the Gold Rush era in the Sierra Nevada planted cherries, but Emmett’s cherry tree is the only tree that the Felix Gillet Institute has found in such good condition.
Emmett’s cherry tree is on an old homestead near the Camptonville stage stop, where it has survived for many years. It receives no pruning, spraying, fertilization or irrigation. In 2013, the Felix Gillet Institute estimates that the one tree produces 300-400 pounds of excellent cherries. have never seen or tasted a cherry like it. There is only the one tree. Therefore, it is a highly endangered specimen that should be protected and propagated. As of the winter of 2014-2015, Emmett’s Cherry will be available as a grafted, dormant bare-root from the Felix Gillet Institute.