Downer Cherry

Print of Downer’s Late Cherry from Massachusetts Horticultural Society Transactions volume 1, Boston, 1848.

The Downer Late Cherry was developed by a Samuel Downer, Jr., who lived on Jones Hill in Dorchester.  The fruit was also known as Downer’s Red Heart

Downer was the proprietor of Downer’s Landing, an amusement park at Crow Point in Hingham, Massachusetts.  He owned an oil company in Boston and his  greatest claim to fame was the fact that he was the first large-scale manufacturer of kerosene.  Through the distillation of bituminous coal, which he learned in Glasgow, Scotland, he produced kerosene which was to revolutionize the lighting fixtures in America’s homes.  Downer lived until the 1900s on his estate at the corner of Downer Avenue and Pleasant Street.  Downer Avenue was originally the carriage drive to his estate.  As an avid horticulturist he joined other Dorchester men in experimenting with the development of new varieties of plants.

The following is from Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits.

Downer is one of the Hearts, much prized for its late delicately and richly flavored fruits.  Several defects keep it from being a variety of considerable worth: the trees thrive only in the choicest of soils; are often uhealty and lacking in vigor; and the yield is small because the fruits are small.  So, while the variety is desirable in a house orchard, as the crop ripens after almost all other dessert cherries have gone, Downer has small place in commercial plantation.  It should be said in its favor as a commercial fruit, that the crop stands harvesting and shipping very well.  Downer takes the name of Samuel Downer, Dorchester, Massachusetts, who grew it sometime before 1832.


Hedrick, U. P.  Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits.  (New York: Macmillan, 1922),  141.

Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Transactions. (Boston, 1847), vol. 1, 61.


Posted on

March 20, 2020