Stone Fruit Varieties for Milder Climates

Copyright © 1997 by Andrew Mariani
Used with permission.

The following listing of stone fruit varieties is not intended to be an exhaustive catalog of all that is available to the fruit grower; rather, it is limited to selected cultivars thought to be representative of the rich diversity of fruit types that can be grown in our milder climates. These fruits are older and newer varieties, some antique fruits, a few outstanding commercial varieties, some current home garden favorites and the newest, most promising introductions.

What, then, is a milder climate? Let's say it ranges from the mildest of Southern California's maritime climates to some of the colder valleys around Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area. Chilling requirements for stone fruits range from practically zero to as many as 1,700 hours, but the varieties selected here need only low to moderate winter chill; that is, no more than about 850-900 hours of temperatures at or below 45° F. Where the chilling requirement in the listing of cultivars cannot be quantified, a range is given -- if known -- to guide the home gardener, as indicated in the following table:

Chilling Requirement Ranges

Low < 300 hours
Low-Moderate 250-400 hours
Moderate 500-700 hours
Moderate-High 700-900 hours

Once decided, the home gardener may need to shop several sources to obtain these special varieties. Older varieties are some-times available from specialty nursery catalogs or as scions or budwood from collectors or scion exchanges. The horticultural skills of grafting and budding are important in propagating rare and antique varieties that are not otherwise available to the home gardener. Newer introductions are often patented, in which case they must be purchased as budded nursery trees.

Listing of Specific Stone Fruit Cultivars for Milder Climates

Variety Winter Chilling Remarks Source (see below)
Blenheim (Royal) 750 hours   WA
Canada Light Unknown Rare CRFG
Gold Kist 300 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Katy 400 hours Zaiger DW,BL
Mirocais Moderate A "black apricot" CRFG
Nugget Low-Moderate Antique CRFG
Royal Rosa 600 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Sparks Mammoth Moderate Antique CRFG


Black Tartarian 650 hours Needs pollenizer WA
Coe's Transparent Moderate Antique, Needs pollenizer CRFG
Craig's Crimson Moderate Zaiger, Self-Fertile DW, BL
Index Unknown Self-Fertile F
Lapins Moderate Self-Fertile WA
Rainier 700 hours Needs pollenizer WA
Reine Hortense Moderate A Duke Cherry, Needs pollenizer CRFG
Starkrimson (Zaicrimson cv) Moderate Zaiger, Self-Fertile Rights assigned to SB
Stella 700-750 hours Self-Fertile WA
Sunburst Unknown Self-Fertile S
SweetheartTM Unknown Self-Fertile VW


Desert Delight 100-200 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Double Delight 700 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Fantasia Low   WA
Heavenly White 600-700 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Honey Blaze Moderate Zaiger DW
Honey Kist Moderate Zaiger DW
Liz's Late 600-700 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Lord Napier Low-Moderate Antique CRFG
Panamint 150-250 hours   WA
Pioneer 300-400 hours   WA
Red Diamond Moderate   B
Red Gold Moderate   VW
Samarkand Moderate Rare CRFG
Snow Queen Low-Moderate   DW
Summer Grand Moderate   B
Tashkent Gold Moderate Rare CRFG
White Tiger Low-Moderate Dixie? SA, CRFG


Arctic Supreme 700 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Australian Saucer 0-100 hours Rare CRFG
Babcock 250-300 hours   WA
Baby Crawford Moderate-High   DW, BL, SA, CRFG
C.O. Smith Low Antique CRFG
Champagne Low-Moderate   DW
Double Jewel 800 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Eagle Beak Low Antique CRFG
Earlitreat 400 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Ernie's Choice Moderate-High   SB
Gold Dust 550 hours   LC, BL
Lukens Honey Low Rare No known source
Pallas Low-Moderate Rare CRFG
Peacot Low Rare CRFG
Red Baron Moderate   DW
Santa Barbara 300 hours   LC
Saturn 500 hours   DW, BL
Silver Logan Moderate-High   SA, F, CRFG
Snowflame Moderate-High   B
Stark Saturn 400 hours   Rights assigned to SB
Strawberry Free 400-500 hours   WA
Sweet Gem Moderate Zaiger DW
Sweet Scarlet Moderate Zaiger DW
Tropi-berta Moderate   LC
Tropic Snow 200 hours   DW, B
Ventura Low   LC


Broken Heart Moderate Rare Currently not available
Burgundy 400 hours   WA
Emerald Beaut 500-600 hours Zaiger DW, BL
Golden Nectar 600 hours   LC, BL
Inca 200 hours Antique CRFG


Bavay's Green Gage Moderate Antique CRFG, SA
Coe's Golden Drop Moderate Antique CRFG, R
Golden Transparent Gage Moderate Antique CRFG, SA
Jefferson Moderate Antique CRFG
Reine des Mirabelles Moderate Rare CRFG


Dapple Dandy Moderate Zaiger Pluot®, aka Dinosaur EggTM DW, SA, BL
Flavor Delight 600 hours Zaiger ApriumTM DW, R, BL
Flavor King 600-700 hours Zaiger Pluot® DW, WA
Flavor Queen Moderate-High Zaiger Pluot® WA
Flavor Supreme Moderate-High Zaiger Pluot® WA
Flavorella Moderate Zaiger Plumcot DW
Flavorich Moderate Zaiger Pluot® DW

Abbreviation Source Information Phone Number
B Burchell Nursery (Wholesale Only). Oakdale, CA 209-845-8733
BL Bay Laurel Nursery (Retail/Mail Order). Atascadero, CA 805-466-3406
CRFG Northern California chapters of CRFG have scions of antique and rare varieties available at annual scion exchanges.
DW Dave Wilson Nursery (Wholesale Only). Hickman, CA 209-874-1821
F Fowler Nurseries, Inc. (Wholesale Only). Newcastle, CA 916-645-8191
LC L.E. Cooke Nursery Co. (Wholesale Only). Visalia, CA 209-732-9146
R Raintree Nursery (Retail/Mail Order). Morton, WA 360-496-6400
S Smith Nursery (Wholesale Only). Lathrop, CA 209-982-1276
SA Sonoma Antique Apple Nursery (Retail/Mail Order). Healdsburg, CA 707-433-6420
SB Stark Bro's Wholesale Co. Louisiana, MO 800-435-8733
VW Van Well Nursery (Wholesale). Wenatchee, WA 509-663-8189
WA Widely available from retail and wholesale nurseries.

California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Questions or comments? Contact us.