The ‘visciola’is a wild cherry. As well as the black and very sweet cherries and the crunchy, clingstone variety, there are other types which are referred to as sour because of their flavour. They are botanically different: Prunus avium includes all varieties of sweet cherries whereas the sour ones belong to the Prunus cerasus ( Rosaceae family. Origin Asia Minor: Caspian sea – North India).
It is not only the flavour of the fruit which differentiates the one from the other; the Prunus cerasus tree is distinctly smaller. Within the cerasus species there are 3 varieties with different characteristics: the wild black cherries with pale flesh and juice, a somewhat bitter and slightly sour flavour, the best type to be eaten fresh; the maraschino with small blackish-red fruit and flesh with a very sour and bitter taste and the ‘visciole’ with deep red flesh and juice and a fairly sweet taste.
The visciola fruits naturally and thrives on steep slopes. It has a strong scent. Sour cherries are usually abundant, but not so the ‘visciole’. The majority of varieties are self-pollinating. Sour cherries also fruit quite early. If the plant is left to grow freely and pruning is kept to a minimum in the first few years, numerous flower buds will form on last year’s growth. As a result, the tree will begin to fruit at the end of the second-third year after being planted. Sour cherries grow mainly on the branches of last year’s growth with abundant round flowers. From then on, as with sweet cherries, May blossom “mazzetti di Maggio” forms on 2-3 year old branches. They are short branches covered in blossom and each bud contains 2-4 flowers (corymb). In spring the branches are literally covered in flowers. Mature plants should be pruned only every 2-3 years and one should thin out the branches in order to prevent the tree becoming too heavy with fruit. Moreover, it is possible to cut the top or the main branches of the tree to stop it becoming too big and to allow air and light to circulate among the foliage.
Sour cherries can resist most threats. They are sometimes affected by aphids, but the infestations often disappear of their own accord without requiring the use of insecticides. Even the cherry fly (Ragoletis cerasi) causes less damage than it does the sweet cherry. As for fungi, the only one which can cause it serious damage is the corineo. However, it is possible to treat the branches of the tree as it sheds its leaves, and, if needed a second time, at the growing stage. The visciole cherries are uncommon and connoisseurs must go to specialist producers to find them or else grow their own. Like the whole of the Azienda Monte Valentino, the visciola is organic. After marrying it with a good red wine it becomes the Sollucchero di Monte Valentino.