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The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium.

The name ‘cherry’, often as the compound term ‘cherry tree’, may also be applied to many other members of the genus Prunus, or to all members of the genus as a collective term. The fruits of many of these are not cherries, and have other common names, including plum, apricot, peach, and others. The name ‘cherry’ is also frequently used in reference to cherry blossom.


Many cherry fruits 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 a smooth fruit with only a weak groove or none along one side. The subgenus is native 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.

The majority of eating cherries are derived from either Prunus avium, the wild cherry (sometimes called the sweet cherry), or from Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry.


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.

  • Prunus apetala (Siebold & Zucc.) Franch. & Sav. – clove cherry
  • Prunus avium (L.) L. – wild cherry, sweet cherry, mazzard or gean
  • Prunus campanulata Maxim. – Taiwan cherry, Formosan cherry or bell-flowered cherry
  • Prunus canescens Bois. – greyleaf cherry
  • Prunus caroliniana Aiton – Carolina laurel cherry or laurel cherry
  • Prunus cerasoides D. Don. – wild Himalayan cherry
  • Prunus cerasus L. – sour cherry
  • Prunus cistena Koehne – purpleleaf sand cherry
  • Prunus cornuta (Wall. ex Royle) Steud. – Himalayan bird cherry
  • Prunus cuthbertii Small – Cuthbert cherry
  • Prunus cyclamina Koehne – cyclamen cherry or Chinese flowering cherry
  • Prunus dawyckensis Sealy – Dawyck cherry
  • Prunus dielsiana C.K. Schneid. – tailed-leaf cherry
  • Prunus emarginata (Douglas ex Hook.) Walp. – Oregon cherry or bitter cherry
  • Prunus eminens Beck – German: mittlere Weichsel (semisour cherry)
  • Prunus fruticosa Pall. – European dwarf cherry, dwarf cherry, Mongolian cherry or steppe cherry
  • Prunus gondouinii (Poit. & Turpin) Rehder – duke cherry
  • Prunus grayana Maxim. – Japanese bird cherry or Gray’s bird cherry
  • Prunus humilis Bunge – Chinese plum-cherry or humble bush cherry
  • Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) Walp. – hollyleaf cherry, evergreen cherry, holly-leaved cherry or islay
  • Prunus incisa Thunb. – Fuji cherry
  • Prunus jamasakura Siebold ex Koidz. – Japanese mountain cherry or Japanese hill cherry
  • Prunus japonica Thunb. – Korean cherry
  • Prunus laurocerasus L. – cherry laurel
  • Prunus lyonii (Eastw.) Sarg. – Catalina Island cherry
  • Prunus maackii Rupr. – Manchurian cherry or Amur chokecherry
  • Prunus mahaleb L. – Saint Lucie cherry, rock cherry, perfumed cherry or mahaleb cherry
  • Prunus maximowiczii Rupr. – Miyama cherry or Korean cherry
  • Prunus mume (Siebold & Zucc.) – Chinese plum or Japanese apricot
  • Prunus myrtifolia (L.) Urb. – West Indian cherry
  • Prunus nepaulensis (Ser.) Steud. – Nepal bird cherry
  • Prunus nipponica Matsum. – Takane cherry, peak cherry or Japanese alpine cherry
  • Prunus occidentalis Sw. – western cherry laurel
  • Prunus padus L. – bird cherry or European bird cherry
  • Prunus pensylvanica L.f. – pin cherry, fire cherry, or wild red cherry
  • Prunus pleuradenia Griseb. – Antilles cherry
  • Prunus prostrata Labill. – mountain cherry, rock cherry, spreading cherry or prostrate cherry
  • Prunus pseudocerasus Lindl. – Chinese sour cherry or false cherry
  • Prunus pumila L. – sand cherry
  • Prunus rufa Wall ex Hook.f. – Himalayan cherry
  • Prunus salicifolia Kunth. – capulin, Singapore cherry or tropic cherry
  • Prunus sargentii Rehder – Sargent’s cherry or Ezo Mountain cherry
  • Prunus serotina Ehrh. – black cherry
  • Prunus serrula Franch. – paperbark cherry, birch bark cherry or Tibetan cherry
  • Prunus serrulata Lindl. – Japanese cherry, hill cherry, Oriental cherry or East Asian cherry
  • Prunus speciosa (Koidz.) Ingram – Oshima cherry
  • Prunus ssiori Schmidt- Hokkaido bird cherry
  • Prunus stipulacea Maxim.
  • Prunus subhirtella Miq. – Higan cherry or spring cherry
  • Prunus takesimensis Nakai – Takeshima flowering cherry
  • Prunus tomentosa Thunb. – Nanking cherry, Manchu cherry, downy cherry, Shanghai cherry, Ando cherry, mountain cherry, Chinese dwarf cherry, Chinese bush cherry
  • Prunus verecunda (Koidz.) Koehne – Korean mountain cherry
  • Prunus virginiana L. – chokecherry
  • Prunus x yedoensis Matsum. – Yoshino cherry or Tokyo cherry


Etymology and antiquity

The native range of the wild cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed through its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, modern day Turkey, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.[1]

A form of cherry was introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.[2][3][4]

The English word cherry, French cerise and Spanish cereza all come from the classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, today a city in northern Turkey Giresun from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.[5]

Nutritional value

Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in rats.[6] Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants under active research for a variety of potential health benefits. According to a study funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute, presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet did not gain as much weight or build up as much body fat, and their blood showed much lower levels of inflammation indicators that have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than the other rats.[7]

Cherries (sweet, edible parts)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263 kJ (63 kcal)
Carbohydrates 16 g
– Sugars 13 g
– Dietary fibre 2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 1.1 g
Vitamin C 7 mg (8%)
Iron 0.4 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Wildlife value

Cherry trees also provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera. See List of Lepidoptera which feed on Prunus.


The cultivated forms are of the species wild 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, there is high demand for the fruit. Cherry is harvested by using shaker in commercial production.[8] Hand picking is also widly used to harvest the fruit to avoid damage since cherries are delicate.

Growing season

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, 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.

In Orange, NSW – A cool climate cherry region, the season begins in mid November and finishes towards the end of January. ‘Kordia’ is an early variety which ripens during the beginning of December, ‘Lapins peak’ near the end of December, and ‘Sweethearts’ appear slightly later.

Ornamental trees

See cherry blossom and Prunus.

Commercial production

Annual world production (as of 2007) of cultivated cherry fruit is about two million tonnes. Around 40% of world production originates in Europe and around 13% in the United States.







Top Cherry Producing Nations – 2009
(in thousand metric tons)
 Turkey 417.7
 United States 390.7
 Iran 225.0
 Italy 116.2
 Spain 96.4
 Syria 78.3
 Russia 69.0
 Romania 67.9
 Uzbekistan 67.0
 Chile 56.0
 France 53.6
 Ukraine 53.0
 Poland 50.5
 Greece 48.0
 Germany 39.5
 Lebanon 34.7
 Austria 30.3
 Serbia 29.2
 China 27.0
 Japan 18.0
 Bulgaria 17.4
 Armenia 15.0
 Canada 14.6
 Australia 13.7
 Kazakhstan 13.0
 India 12.7
 Portugal 11.2
 Albania 10.9
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.7
 Switzerland 10.2
 Moldova 9.0
 Hungary 8.1
 Morocco 7.4
 Croatia 7.1
 Azerbaijan 6.9
World Total 2,196.1
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations[9]



Major commercial cherry orchards in Europe are in Turkey (mainly Anatolia), Italy and Spain. To a smaller extent is also grown in the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia.

North America

In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan.[10] Important sweet cherry cultivars include Bing, Brooks, Tulare, King and Rainier. In addition, the Lambert variety is grown on the eastern side of Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana.[11] 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.[10] Additionally, native and nonnative cherries grow well in Canada (Ontario and British Columbia). Sour cherries include Nanking and Evans cherry. 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 is known for tart cherry production is referred to as the “Traverse Bay” region.


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.[12]

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

Written on April 23rd, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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