Ark of Taste
Coe's Transparent Cherry
Prunus Avium v. Coe's
The second American-bred cherry (after Downer's Late) to secure a national following, the Coe's Transparent was a seedling of the Ox Heart discovered by Curtis Coe of Middletown, Connecticut in the early 1840s. It's round semi-translucent fruit were smallish, beautiful and flavorsome. In 1847 the editor of The Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Taste visited Coe to examine the famous cherry. His noticed made it a standard home orchard cherry well into the twentieth century. It was grown in New England, the upper Midwest, the mountain and Piedmont areas of Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
The Coe’s Transparent is a large and spreading tree, noteworthy for “hardiness, vigor, healthfulness, and fruitfulness,” wrote Ulysses Hedrick in his Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits. The Horticulturist described this cherry as “a fruit of medium size, remarkably round and regular in form. Skin thin, wax-like, of a very delicate, pale amber, nearly covered with pale cornelian red in the sun, and marked with delicate pale spots or blotches, which give it an unique appearance.” Flesh very tender, melting and juicy. The taste is delicate and sweet with excellent flavor.
Because of the soft flesh of the cherries, they did not ship well, and so Coe’s Transparent ceased being a market cherry in the twentieth century. Yet, it has survived as a home orchard cherry, cherished for its superlative sweet taste.
Beginning in 2000 there has been increased West Coast interest in the Coe’s Transparent. Three American nurseries now supply Coe’s Transparent as stock: Rolling River Nursery, One Green World and Arboreum Company. Washington State University included it in its test and breeding plots.
No accurate number describe how many trees survive, but given the limited number of nurseries in the United States offering saplings, the variety must be considered at risk.
The Image by Newton A.A., Available: USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville