Napoleon Bigarreau cherry treesPrunus avium
Napoleon is a well-known traditional large white cherry, and a typical "bigarreau" or firm-fleshed variety. The flavour is sweet/sharp, tangier than most of the modern varieties, and of very good quality.
Also unlike the more modern cherry varieties which are typically dark red or black with dark flesh, Napoleon is usually classified as a white cherry, on account of its pale golden white flesh.
Napoleon Bigarreau cherry trees for sale
BR11-year bare-root tree F12/1 rootstock £21.95
Very large tree
(4m-7m after 10 years)
How to grow
As is often the case with fruit varieties, the ones with the best flavour can be the most difficult to grow. Napoleon's weak point is its susceptibility to infections of bacterial canker. You can minimise the likelihood of this happening by keeping pruning to an absolute minimum, since pruning cuts are an entry point for the disease.
On a more positive note, Napoleon is a prolific bearer, and the tree is generally very hardy. It also flowers later in the spring than most varieties, which helps the blossom escape early frosts.
The cherries ripen over a long period, allowing several pickings to be made - a particularly useful quality in cherries, which are always best when eaten straight from the tree.
Napoleon requires a pollination partner, one of the modern self-fertile varieties such as Stella or Sunburst is a good choice, or traditional varieties such as Bigarreau Gaucher, or Merton Bigarreau.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Despite its name, the Napoleon cherry is not French - it originates from Germany where there is a long history of cherry cultivation.
The Napoleon Bigarreau variety played a key role in the development of the first self-fertile cherry, Stella. As a result a very large number of modern cherries are descended from it.
Napoleon Bigarreau characteristics
- Gardening skillAverage
- Self-fertilityNot self-fertile
- Flowering group5
- Pollinating othersAverage
- Climate suitabilityTemperate climatesWarm climates
- Picking seasonEarly
- Keeping (of fruit)1-3 days
- Food usesEating fresh
- Flavour style (apples)Sweet/Sharp
- CankerVery susceptible
- Fruit splittingVery susceptible
- Country of originGermany
- Period of origin1750 - 1799
- Fruit colourYellow / Red