Duke Cherries are a hybrid between sweet and sour cherries. They are sometimes referred to as an “all-purpose cherry.”
The trees are less hardy than even sweet cherry trees, and less productive than sour ones. For this reason, plus the fact that they are hard to sell in a market that thinks of cherries as being either sweet or sour, they aren’t grown much.
The cherry has red skin and flesh with a red tinge to it. It gives off clear, tangy juice.
Developed in Médoc, France. When it arrived in England, it was called “May Duke” in an attempt to pronounce the French, and then later shortened to Duke. You will still see it referred to as “May Duke” from time to time.
George Washington, in his diary entry for 10 March 1775, writes:
“On the 10th. of March when the Cherry buds were a good deal Swell’d, & the White part of them beginning to appear, I grafted the following Cherries viz. In the Row next the Quarter & beginning at the end next the grass walk, 13 May Duke & next to those 12 Black May Cherry both from Colo. Masons and cut from the Trees yesterday.”