600px-Cherry Stella444
Prunus avium, sweet cherry, also called wild cherry
Scientific classification
Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheobionta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Subclass Rosidae
Order Rosales
Family Rosaceae
Genus Prunus L.
Binomial nomenclature

The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit). The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species such as cultivars of the sweet cherry, Prunus avium. The name 'cherry' also refers to the cherry tree, and is sometimes applied to almonds and visually similar flowering trees in the genus Prunus, as in "ornamental cherry", "cherry blossom", etc. Wild Cherry may refer to any of the cherry species growing outside of cultivation, although Prunus avium is often referred to specifically by the name "wild cherry" in the British Isles.

Botany Edit

Black Che

Prunus cerasus

Many cherries are members of the subgenus Cerasus, which is distinguished by having the flowers in small corymbs of several together (not singly, nor in racemes), and by having smooth fruit with only a weak groove or none along one side. The subgenus is native plant to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder in Asia. Other cherry fruits are members of subgenus Padus. Cherry trees with low exposure to light tend to have a bigger leaf size so they can intercept all light possible. Cherry trees with high exposure to light tend to have thicker leaves to concentrate light and have a higher photosynthetic capacity.

Most eating cherries are derived from either Prunus avium, the sweet cherry (also called the wild cherry), or from Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry.


Etymology and antiquity Edit

The indigenous range of the sweet cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed throughout its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry, as well as the apricot, is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, also known as the Pontus region, historic Armenia, in 72 BC.

A form of cherry was introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII of England, who had tasted them in Flanders.

The English word cherry, French cerise, Spanish cereza, and Turkish kiraz all derive from the classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, which referred to the ancient Greek place name Cerasus, today the city of Giresun in northern Turkey in the ancient Pontus region, from which the cherry was first exported to Europe. The ancient Greek word κερασός "cherry" itself is thought to be derived from a pre-Greek Anatolian languages.

Wildlife value Edit

Cherry trees also provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).

Cultivation Edit

The cultivated forms are of the species sweet cherry (P. avium) to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the sour cherry (P. cerasus), which is used mainly for cooking. Both species originate in Europe and western Asia; they do not cross-pollinate. Some other species, although having edible fruit, are not grown extensively for consumption, except in northern regions where the two main species will not grow. Irrigation, spraying, labor, and their propensity to damage from rain and hail make cherries relatively expensive. Nonetheless, demand is high for the fruit. In commercial production, cherries are harvested by using a mechanized 'shaker'. Hand picking is also widely used to harvest the fruit to avoid damage to both fruit and trees.

Growing season Edit

800px-Cherry trees in Tehran.

Ripe cherries of Tehran in the middle of June.

Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. The peak season for cherries is in the summer. In Australia and New Zealand they are usually at their peak in late December, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in south British Columbia (Canada) in July to mid-August and in the UK in mid-July. In many parts of North America, they are among the first tree fruits to ripen, while in Australia and New Zealand cherries are widely associated with Christmas.

'Kordia' is an early variety which ripens during the beginning of December, 'Lapins peak' ripens near the end of December, and 'Sweethearts' finish slightly later in the Southern Hemisphere.

Like most temperate-latitude trees, cherry seeds require exposure to cold to germinate (a mechanism the tree evolved to prevent germination during the autumn, which would then result in the seedling being killed by winter temperatures). The pits are planted in the autumn (after first being chilled) and seedlings emerge in the spring. A cherry tree will take three to four years to produce its first crop of fruit, and seven years to attain full maturity. Because of the cold-weather requirement, none of the Prunus family can grow in tropical climates.


The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

Name Height Spread Ref.
Accolade 8m 8m
Amanogawa 8m 4m
Autumnalis (P. × subhirtella) 8m 8m
Autumnalis Rosea (P. × subhirtella) 8m 4m
Avium Grandiflora see Plena
Colorata (P. padus) 12m 8m
Grandiflora see Plena
Kanzan 12m 12m+
Kiku-shidare-zakura 4m 4m
Kursar 8m 8m
Morello (P. cerasus) 4m 4m
Okamé (P. × incam) 12m 8m
Pandora 12m 8m
Pendula Rosea 4m 4m
Name Height Spread
Pendula Rubra 4m 4m
Pink Perfection 8m 8m
Plena (Grandiflora) 12m 8m+
Praecox (P. incisa) 8m 8m
Prunus avium (wild cherry) 12m+ 8m+
Prunus × cistena 1.5m 1.5m
Prunus sargentii (Sargent's cherry) 12m+ 8m+
Prunus serrula (Tibetan cherry) 12m 8m+
Shirofugen 8m 8m
Shirotai 8m 8m
Shōgetsu 8m 8m
Spire 12m 8m
Stella 4m 4m
Ukon 8m 8m+

Ornamental trees Edit

See cherry blossom and Prunus.

Commercial production Edit


Worldwide cherry yield

Top Sour Cherry Producing Nations - 2012
(in tons)
Rank Country Production
1 TUR 187,941
2 RUS 183,300
3 POL 175,391
4 UKR 172,800
5 IRN 105,000
6 SRB 74,656
7 HUG 53,425
8 USA 38,601
9 UZB 34,000
10 AZE 23,085
11 ALB 17,000
12 DEU 12,941
13 BLR 10,674
14 MKD 8,127
15 MDA 7,996
16 ITA 7,000
17 CRO 6,000
18 DEN 4,868
19 ARM 4,699
20 AUT 4,030
Sum 1,131,534
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization

Asia Edit

450px-Italienische Süßkirschen


Major commercial cherry orchards in West Asia are in Turkey (mainly Anatolia), Iran, Uzbekistan, Lebanon (Bekaa Valley), Syria (Golan Heights) and Israel (Golan Heights, Gush Eztion and Northern Galilee).

Europe Edit

Major commercial cherry orchards in Europe are in Italy and Spain and other mediterranean regions, and to a smaller extent in the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia.

In France since the 1920s, the first cherries of the season always come in march from the region of Céret (Pyrénées-Orientales), where the local producers always send, as a tradition since 1932, the first crate of cherries to the President of France.

North America Edit

In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington state, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Important sweet cherry cultivars include 'Bing', 'Brooks', 'Tulare', 'King', 'Sweetheart', and 'Rainier'. In addition, the 'Lambert' variety is grown on the eastern side of Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana. Both Oregon and Michigan provide light-colored 'Royal Ann' ('Napoleon'; alternately 'Queen Anne') cherries for the maraschino cherry process. Most sour (also called tart) cherries are grown in Michigan, followed by Utah, New York, and Washington. Sour cherries include 'Nanking' and 'Evans'. Traverse City, Michigan claims to be the "Cherry Capital of the World", hosting a National Cherry Festival and making the world's largest cherry pie. The specific region of northern Michigan known for tart cherry production is referred to as the "Traverse Bay" region.

Native and non-native sweet cherries grow well in Canada's provinces of Ontario and British Columbia where an annual cherry fiesta has been celebrated for 66 consecutive years (including 2014) in the Okanagan Valley town of Osoyoos. In addition to the Okanagan, other British Columbia cherry growing regions are the Similkameen Valley and Kootenay Valley, all three regions together producing 5.5 million kg annually or 60% of total Canadian output. Sweet cherry varieties in British Columbia include Rainier, Van, Chelan, Lapin, Sweetheart, Skeena, Staccato, Christalina and Bing.

Australia Edit

In Australia, cherries are grown in all the states except for the Northern Territory. The major producing regions are located in the temperate areas within New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Western Australia has limited production in the elevated parts in southwest of the state. Key production areas include Young, Orange and Bathurst in New South Wales, Wandin, the Goulburn and Murray valley areas in Victoria, the Adelaide Hills region in South Australia, and the Huon and Derwent Valleys in Tasmania.

Key commercial varieties in order of seasonality include 'Empress', 'Merchant', 'Supreme', 'Ron's seedling', 'Chelan', 'Ulster', 'Van', 'Bing', 'Stella', 'Nordwunder', 'Lapins', 'Simone', 'Regina', 'Kordia' and 'Sweetheart'. New varieties are being introduced, including the late season 'Staccato' and early season 'Sequoia'. The Australian Cherry Breeding program is developing a series of new varieties which are under testing evaluation.

The New South Wales town of Young is called the "Cherry Capital of Australia" and hosts the National Cherry Festival.

Nutritional value Edit

As raw fruit, sweet cherries provide little nutrient content per 100 g serving (nutrient table). Dietary fiber and vitamin C are present in the most significant content while other vitamins and dietary minerals each supply less than 10% of the Daily Value (DV) per serving, respectively.

Compared to sweet cherries, raw sour cherries contain higher content per 100 g of vitamin C (12% DV) and vitamin A (8% DV).

Other informationEdit

The wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture.

Species Edit

The list below contains many Prunus species that bear the common name cherry, but they are not necessarily members of the subgenus Cerasus, or bear edible fruit. For a complete list of species, see Prunus. Some common names listed here have historically been used for more than one species, e.g. "rock cherry" is used as an alternative common name for both P. prostrata and P. mahaleb and "wild cherry" is used for several species.

See alsoEdit

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