Cherry: Map


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For other uses, see Cherry .

The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus. It is a fleshy fruit that contains a single stony seed. 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.


True cherry fruits are borne by 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 Hemispheremarker, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder in Asia.

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.


This list contains many Prunus species that bear the common name cherry; however they are mostly of little or no value for their fruit. For a complete list of these, 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.


Etymology and antiquity

The cherry is thought to have been brought to Romemarker from northeastern Anatoliamarker, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC. It should be noted however, that the range of the wild cherry extends through most of Europe, and that the fruit is believed to have been consumed through its range since prehistoric times.

The English word cherry, French cerise, Spanish cereza all come from the Classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.

A form of cherry was introduced into England at Tynehammarker, near Sittingbournemarker in Kentmarker by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.

Nutritional value

Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in rats. 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.

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.

Growing season

Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. In Australia they are usually at their peak around Christmas time, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in south British Columbia (Canada) in July-mid August and in the UK in mid July, always in the summer season. In many parts of North America they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.

Ornamental trees

Besides the fruit, cherries also have attractive flowers, and they are commonly planted for ornamental purposes due to their flower display in spring; several of the Asian cherries are particularly noted for their flower displays. The Japanese sakura in particular are a national symbol celebrated in the yearly Hanami festival. Many flowering cherry cultivars (known as "ornamental cherries") have the stamens and pistils replaced by additional petals ("double" flowers), so are sterile and do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their flowers and decorative value. The most common of these sterile cherries is the cultivar "Kanzan".

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 - 2007

(in thousand metric tons)
World Total 2,083.1
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Major commercial cherry orchards in Europe extend from the Iberian peninsulamarker east to Asia Minormarker, and to a smaller extent may also be grown in the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia.

United States

In the United Statesmarker, most sweet cherries are grown in Washingtonmarker, Californiamarker, Oregonmarker, and Northern Michiganmarker. Important sweet cherry cultivars include "Bing", "Brooks", "Tulare", "King" and "Rainier". In addition, the Lambert variety is grown on the eastern side of Flathead Lakemarker in northwestern Montanamarker. Both Oregonmarker and Michiganmarker provide light-colored "Royal Ann" ('Napoleon'; alternately "Queen Anne") cherries for the maraschino cherry process. Most sour (also called tart) cherries are grown in Michiganmarker, followed by Utahmarker, New Yorkmarker, and Washingtonmarker. Additionally, native and non-native cherries grow well in Canadamarker (Ontariomarker and British Columbiamarker). Sour cherries include Nanking and Evans Cherry. Traverse City, Michiganmarker 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 that is known the world over for tart cherry production is referred to as the "Traverse Bay" region. Farms in this region grown many varieties of cherries, sold through companies in the region.


In Australia, the New South Walesmarker town of Youngmarker is famous as the "Cherry Capital of Australia" and hosts the internationally famous National Cherry Festival. Popular varieties include the "Montmorency", "Morello", "North Star", "Early Richmond", "Titans", and "Lamberts".Cherries come in a variety of different colors, like red as well as yellow.


File:Cherry by Gulmammad 1.jpgFile:Cherry by Gulmammad 6.jpgFile:Cherry Stella444.jpg|Stella, Prunus avium

See also


  1. A History of the Vegetable Kingdom, Page 334.
  2. The curious antiquary John Aubrey (1626–1697) noted in his memoranda: "Cherries were first brought into Kent tempore H. viii, who being in Flanders, and likeing (sic) the Cherries, ordered his Gardener, brought them hence, and propagated them in England."
  3. "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, and golden rennets, done by the fruiterer of Henry VIII." ( Kent On-line: Teynham Parish)
  4. The civic coat of arms of Sittingbourne with the crest of a "cherry tree fructed proper" were only granted in 1949, however.
  5. "Tart Cherries May Reduce Heart/Diabetes Risk Factors". Newswise, Retrieved on July 7, 2008.
  6. Cherry Production National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Retrieved on August 19, 2008.
  7. [1]Sweet Cherries Of Flathead Lake, Retrieved on August 28, 2009

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