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Prunus avium, sweet cherry, also called wild cherry

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 1
  • History 2
    • Etymology and antiquity 2.1
  • Wildlife value 3
  • Cultivation 4
    • Growing season 4.1
  • Cultivars 5
  • Ornamental trees 6
  • Commercial production 7
    • Eurasia 7.1
    • North America 7.2
    • Australia 7.3
  • Nutritional value 8
  • Other information 9
  • Species 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • External links 13


Prunus padus, bird cherry

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 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.[1]

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

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.[2]

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.[3][4][5]

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.[6] The ancient Greek word κερασός "cherry" itself is thought to be derived from a pre-Greek Anatolian language.[7]

Wildlife value

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


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'.[8] Hand picking is also widely used to harvest the fruit to avoid damage to both fruit and trees.

Growing season

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.[9]

'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 [10]
Amanogawa 8m 4m [11]
Autumnalis (P. × subhirtella) 8m 8m [12]
Autumnalis Rosea (P. × subhirtella) 8m 4m [13]
Avium Grandiflora see Plena
Colorata (P. padus) 12m 8m [14]
Grandiflora see Plena
Kanzan 12m 12m+ [15]
Kiku-shidare-zakura 4m 4m [16]
Kursar 8m 8m [17]
Morello (P. cerasus) 4m 4m [18]
Okamé (P. × incam) 12m 8m [19]
Pandora 12m 8m [20]
Pendula Rosea 4m 4m [21]
Name Height Spread Ref.
Pendula Rubra 4m 4m [22]
Pink Perfection 8m 8m [23]
Plena (Grandiflora) 12m 8m+ [24]
Praecox (P. incisa) 8m 8m [25]
Prunus avium (wild cherry) 12m+ 8m+ [10]
Prunus × cistena 1.5m 1.5m [26]
Prunus sargentii (Sargent's cherry) 12m+ 8m+ [27]
Prunus serrula (Tibetan cherry) 12m 8m+ [28]
Shirofugen 8m 8m [29]
Shirotai 8m 8m [30]
Shōgetsu 8m 8m [31]
Spire 12m 8m [32]
Stella 4m 4m [25]
Ukon 8m 8m+ [33]

Ornamental trees

See cherry blossom and Prunus.

Commercial production

Worldwide cherry yield
Top Cherry Producing Nations - 2012
(in metric tons)
Rank Country Production
1  Turkey 480,748
2  United States 384,646
3  Iran 200,000
4  Italy 104,766
5  Spain 98,400
6  Chile 90,000
7  Uzbekistan 84,000
8  Syria 82,341
9  Ukraine 72,600
10  Russia 72,000
11  Romania 70,542
12  Greece 60,300
13  Poland 41,063
14  Austria 38,680
15  China 35,500
16  France 30,440
17  Germany 23,005
18  Lebanon 22,500
19  Serbia 22,213
20  Bulgaria 19,512
Sum 2,033,256
Source: [34]
Top Sour Cherry Producing Nations - 2012
(in tons)
Rank Country Production
1  Turkey 187,941
2  Russia 183,300
3  Poland 175,391
4  Ukraine 172,800
5  Iran 105,000
6  Serbia 74,656
7  Hungary 53,425
8  United States 38,601
9  Uzbekistan 34,000
10  Azerbaijan 23,085
11  Albania 17,000
12  Germany 12,941
13  Belarus 10,674
14  Macedonia 8,127
15  Moldova 7,996
16  Italy 7,000
17  Croatia 6,000
18  Denmark 4,868
19  Armenia 4,699
20  Austria 4,030
Sum 1,131,534
Source: [34]



Major commercial cherry orchards in West Asia and Europe are in Turkey (mainly Anatolia), Lebanon (Bekaa Valley), Syria (Golan Heights), Israel (Northern Galilee), Italy and Spain, and to a smaller extent 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.[35] Important sweet cherry cultivars include 'Bing', 'Brooks', 'Tulare', 'King', 'Sweetheart',[36] and 'Rainier'. In addition, the 'Lambert' variety is grown on the eastern side of Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana.[37] 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.[35] 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.[38] 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.[39] Sweet cherry varieties in British Columbia include Rainier, Van, Chelan, Lapin, Sweetheart, Skeena, Staccato, Christalina and Bing.


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.[40]

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

Nutritional value

Cherries, sour, red, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 209 kJ (50 kcal)
12.2 g
Sugars 8.5 g
Dietary fiber 1.6 g
0.3 g
1 g
Vitamin A equiv.
64 μg
770 μg
85 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.03 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.04 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.4 mg
0.143 mg
Vitamin B6
0.044 mg
Folate (B9)
8 μg
6.1 mg
Vitamin C
10 mg
Vitamin K
2.1 μg
Trace metals
16 mg
0.32 mg
9 mg
0.112 mg
15 mg
173 mg
3 mg
0.1 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Cherries, sweet, red, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263 kJ (63 kcal)
16 g
Sugars 12.8 g
Dietary fiber 2.1 g
0.2 g
1.1 g
Vitamin A equiv.
3 μg
38 μg
85 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.027 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.033 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.154 mg
0.199 mg
Vitamin B6
0.049 mg
Folate (B9)
4 μg
6.1 mg
Vitamin C
7 mg
Vitamin K
2.1 μg
Trace metals
13 mg
0.36 mg
11 mg
0.07 mg
21 mg
222 mg
0 mg
0.07 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

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.[41]

Compared to sweet cherries, raw sour cherries contain higher content per 100 g of vitamin C (12% DV) and vitamin A (8% DV).[42]

Other information

The wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture.[43]


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 also


  1. ^ Goncalves, Berta; Carlos M. Correia; Ana Paula Silva; Eunice A. Bacelar; Alberto Santos; José M. Moutinho-Pereira (20 May 2008). "Leaf structure and function of sweet cherry tree (Prunus avium L.) cultivars with open and dense canopies". Scientia Horticulturae. Scientia Horticulturae 116 (4): 381–387.  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ The curious  
  4. ^ "All the cherry gardens and orchards of Kent are said to have been stocked with the Flemish cherry from a plantation of 105 acres in Teynham, made with foreign cherries, pippins [ pippin apples ], and golden rennets [goldreinette apples], done by the fruiterer of Henry VIII." (Kent On-line: Teynham Parish)
  5. ^ The civic coat of arms of Sittingbourne with the crest of a "cherry tree fructed proper" and motto "known by their fruits" were only granted on July 28, 1949, however.
  6. ^ A History of the Vegetable Kingdom, Page 334.
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Chainpure (2009-06-23). "Soul to Brain: Wow! Its Cherry Harvesting". Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  9. ^ Footner, Regan (27 November 2008). "Cherries - a sign of Christmas". ABC Blogs. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Accolade' (d) AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Amanogawa' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus × subhirtella 'Autumnalis' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus × subhirtella 'Autumnalis Rosea' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  14. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus padus 'Colorata' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Kanzan' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  16. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Kiku-shidare-zakura' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  17. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Kursar' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  18. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus cerasus 'Morello' (C) AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  19. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus × incam 'Okamé' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  20. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Pandora' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  21. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus pendula 'Pendula Rosea' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus pendula 'Pendula Rubra' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  23. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Pink Perfection' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  24. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus avium 'Plena' (d) AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  25. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector Prunus avium 'Stella' (F) AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  26. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus × cistena AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  27. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus sargentii AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  28. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus serrula AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  29. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Shirofugen' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  30. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Prunus 'Shirotae' AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  31. ^ "' 'ShogetsuPrunus"RHS Plant Selector - . Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "' 'SpirePrunus"RHS Plant Selector - . Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "' 'UkonPrunus"RHS Plant Selector - . Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  34. ^ a b "Production of Cherry by countries".  
  35. ^ a b Cherry Production (Report). National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. June 23, 2011. ISSN 1948-9072. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
  36. ^ "Cherry Varieties". Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  37. ^ [1] Sweet Cherries Of Flathead Lake, Retrieved on August 28, 2009
  38. ^ "66th Annual Cherry Fiesta/Canada Day Celebrations". Destination Osoyoos. 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  39. ^ "Cherries". BC Ministry of Agriculture. 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  40. ^ "ANNUAL INDUSTRY REPORT 08 • 09". Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL). 
  41. ^ "Nutrition facts, cherries, sweet, raw, 100 g". US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, Standard Reference 21. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  42. ^ "Nutrition facts, cherries, sour, red, raw, 100 g". US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, Standard Reference 21. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  43. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica. 1994–2009. 

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