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.
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 along one side, or no groove. 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.
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, in 72 BC.
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. Cherry trees also provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).
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 language.
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.
Common rootstocks include Mazzard, Mahaleb, Clot, and Gisela Series, a dwarfing rootstock that produces trees significantly smaller than others, only 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) tall. Sour cherries require no pollenizer while few sweet varieties are self-fertile.
Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. Cherries blossom in April (in England) and the peak season for cherries is in the summer: In southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in England in mid-July, and in south British Columbia (Canada) in July to mid-August. In many parts of North America, they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.
In the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia and New Zealand, cherries are usually at their peak in late December and 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.
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 genus can grow in tropical climates.
Pests and diseases
Generally, cherry trees are a difficult fruit tree to grow and keep alive. They do not tolerate wetness. In Europe, the first visible pest in the growing season soon after blossom (in April in western Europe) usually is the black cherry aphid ("cherry blackfly", Myzus cerasi), which causes leaves at the tips of branches to curl, with the blackfly colonies exuding a sticky secretion which promotes fungal growth on the leaves and fruit. At the fruiting stage in June/July (Europe), the cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis cingulata and Rhagoletis cerasi) lays its eggs in the immature fruit, whereafter its larvae feed on the cherry flesh and exit through a small hole (about 1mm diametre), which in turn is the entry point for fungal infection of the cherry fruit after rainfall. In addition cherry trees are susceptible to bacterial canker, cytospora canker, brown rot, root rot, crown rot, and to several viruses.
|Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization |
|Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization |
In France since the 1920s, the first cherries of the season come in April/May from the region of Céret (Pyrénées-Orientales), where the local producers send, as a tradition since 1932, the first crate of cherries to the French president of the Republic.
In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Important sweet cherry cultivars include Bing, Ulster, Rainier, Brooks, Tulare, King, and Sweetheart. 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.
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.
As raw fruit, sweet cherries provide little nutrient content per 100 g serving (nutrient table). Dietary fiber and vitamin C are present in moderate content while other vitamins and dietary minerals each supply less than 10% of the Daily Value (DV) per serving, respectively (table).
The wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture.
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.
- Prunus apetala (Siebold & Zucc.) Franch. & Sav. - clove cherry
- Prunus avium (L.) L. - sweet cherry, wild cherry, mazzard or gean
- Prunus campanulata Maxim. - Taiwan cherry, Formosan cherry or bell-flowered cherry
- Prunus canescens Bois. - grey-leaf 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 - purple-leaf 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
- Prunus serotina Ehrh. - black cherry, wild 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
- 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. doi:10.1016/j.scienta.2008.02.013.
- "Pontus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- 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 the Cherries, ordered his Gardener, brought them hence, and propagated them in England." Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. (1949). Aubrey's Brief Lives. Edited from the Original Manuscripts. p. xxxv.
- "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)
- 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.
- A History of the Vegetable Kingdom, Page 334.
- Robert S. P. Beekes (2010). Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-17418-4.
As the improved cherry came from the Pontos area (cf. Κερασοῦς "rich in cherries", town on the Pontos), the name is probably Anatolian as well. Given its intervocalic σ, the form must be Anatolian or Pre-Greek. For the suffix, cf. ▶-θíασος, ▶-κάρπασος, which too are of foreign origin. Assyr. karšu has also been adduced. Cf. on ▶κράνον 'cornelian cherry'. Gr. κέρασος, -íα, κεράσιον were borrowed into many languages: Asiatic names of the cherry-tree and the cherry, like Arm. ker̄as, Kurd. ghilas, and in the West, Lat. cerasus, -ium, VLat. ★cerasia, ★ceresia, -ea; from Latin came the Romance and Germanic forms like MoFr. cerise, OHG chirsa > Kirsche. Lit.: Olck in PW 11: 509f. and Hester Lingua 13 (1965): 356.
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- (French) Fabricio Cardenas, Vieux papiers des Pyrénées-Orientales, Des cerises de Céret pour le président de la République en 1932, June 1st 2014
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- Encyclopedia Britannica. 1994–2009.
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