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 Prunus -various- subsp. var.  Cherry
Cherries in an orchard
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
Water: moderate
Features: deciduous, flowers, edible, fruit
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USDA Zones: 3 to onwarning.png"on" is not a number.
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: white, single
Rosaceae > Prunus -various- var. ,

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.

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.

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 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. In many parts of North America they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Cherry. Several kinds or types of small stone fruits ripening in late spring and in summer; widespread and popular in domestic and commercial use.

Sweet and sour cherries have been domesticated from two Old World species: cultivated sweet cherries having come from Prunus Avium and the sour cherries from Prunus Cerasus. Varieties of these two species, and hybrids between them, now encircle the globe in the north temperate zone and are being rapidly disseminated throughout the temperate parts of the southern hemisphere. For centuries, probably from the beginnings of agriculture, cherries have been valuable fruit-producing trees in Europe and Asia,— inhabitants of nearly every orchard and garden as well as common roadside trees in temperate climates of both continents.

Coming from the Old World to the New, the cherry has played an important part in the orcharding in temperate regions of the western hemisphere. In North America, varieties of one or the other of the two cultivated species are grown from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island on the north, southward to the Gulf of California, Texas and Florida, probably yielding crops in a greater diversity of soils and climates on this continent than any other tree fruit.

Sour cherries are suited to many environments, thriving in various soils and withstanding rather better than most orchard fruits heat, cold and atmospheric dryness, and though they respond to good care, yet they thrive under neglect better than most other tree fruits. Sour cherries also have fewer insect and fungous troubles than other tree fruits, being practically immune to the dreaded San Jose scale. Sweet cherries, however, are much less easily grown. Sweet varieties are all somewhat fastidious as to soils, are lacking in hardiness to both heat and cold, are prey to more insects than sour cherries and subject to nearly all of the fungous ills to which stone-fruits are heir, suffering in America in particular from brown-rot and leaf-spot.Sweet cherries can be grown with commercial success in but few and comparatively limited regions, although the localities adapted to sweet varieties are rather widely distributed.

The cherry is probably the most popular of temperate climate fruits for the home yard, being planted more commonly than any other tree-fruit, in the many regions in which it is grown, in the dooryard, garden and along the roadside. The characters, other than those already named, that commend it for home plantations, are, early bearing after planting, early ripening in the season, regularity in bearing, great fruitfulness and ease of culture. It is more than a home fruit, however, and is largely grown for the markets, for canning and for preserving.

In America, the consumption of cherries is being greatly increased by the fashion of adding them preserved to many ices and drinks. The demand for canned cherries has also increased enormously in this country during the last few years. In Europe, wine is made from cherries, "kirschwasser," a spirit, is distilled from the fermented fruit pulp, and in the Austrian province of Dalmatia a cordial called maraschino is made by a secret process of fermentation and distillation. This liquor is imported to America in considerable quantities to flavor preserved cherries which become the well-known "maraschino cherries" of confection and delicatessen shops.

Other species.

Several species of cherries other than the two named have more or less horticultural value. Prunus Padus and Prunus Mahaleb of the Old World furnish fruits sometimes used for culinary purposes but much more cultivated, in their various forms, as ornamentals; the latter furnishes a stock upon which orchard varieties are now most commonly budded. Prunus Besseyi, Prunus pumila and Prunus pennsylvanica are species from North America, the first two having varieties cultivated for their fruits and all three being used as ornamentals and for stocks. Prunus Pseudo-Cerasus and Prunus tomentosa from Asia are much grown in China and Japan as ornamentals, for their fruits and as stocks, and should find favor in Europe and America for these purposes. In recent years many new species of cherries have been discovered in Asia. E. Koehne, one of the best authorities on the genus Prunus, places 120 species, nearly all from Asia, in the sub-genus Cerasus to which belong the orchard cherries (Mitt. Deut. Dendrol. Gesell., 1912:168-183). A few of these have already been introduced in America by the United States Department of Agriculture, and from them one is sure to find valuable horticultural species to be used for their fruits, as ornamentals, as stocks, and for hybridization with species already domesticated.

Types and varieties.

There are now about 600 varieties of cherries grown in America and Europe, and the names of as many more that have passed from cultivation remain. These are variously grouped, but the following simple classification takes in the common orchard sorts:

(1) The Hearts.—Large, heart-shaped, soft-fleshed, sweet cherries, light-colored as represented by Governor Wood and dark as in Black Tartarian.

(2) The Bigarreaus.—Large, sweet, heart-shaped and colored as in the previous group but with firm, crisp and crackling flesh. Well represented by Napoleon (Fig. 909) and Yellow Spanish as light-colored members of the group, and by Schmidt and Bing as dark sorts.

(3) The Dukes.—-Somewhat smaller cherries than the Hearts and Bigarreaus, softer in flesh, light-colored and usually sour or nearly so. This group is placed under Prunus Avium, but there can be no doubt but that the widely varying Dukes are hybrids between Prunus Avium and Prunus Cerasus. May Duke and Reine Hortense serve as illustrations of the group.

(1) The Amarelles.—Rather small, light-colored, sour cherries with colorless or nearly colorless juice, produced on upright trees, represented by Early Richmond and Montmorency (Fig. 910).

(2) The Morellos.—Also comparatively small and very sour but dark in color and with dark-colored juice and trees with a dropping habit, represented by English Morello and Louis Philippe.

In spite of the great number of varieties, the cherry, of all stone-fruits, seems most fixed in its characters. Thus, the difference between tree and fruit in the cherries of the several groups is comparatively slight and many of the varieties come nearly true to seed. So, too, cherries, although probably domesticated as long ago as any other of the tree-fruits, are now most of all like their wild progenitors. Notwithstanding this stability, there are probably rich rewards to be secured in breeding cherries by those who will put in practice the discoveries of recent years in plant-breeding, and will hybridize especially the various groups of the two species now cultivated and introduce wholly new blood from wild species. So little effort has been directed toward improving cherries, and the material seems so promising, that it would seem that with proper endeavor the coming generation may have a new and greatly improved cultivated cherry flora.U.P.Hedrick.

The cherry in California.

In commercial importance, the cherry is least of the fruits of the temperate zone grown in California on a commercial scale—not considering the quince and nectarine, of which the product is almost insignificant. This is not because the finest cherries cannot be grown, but because the avenues for the disposition of the product are not so wide as for other leading fruits. Recently there are indications that these avenues will be widened, for, in the year 1912, 244 carloads were profitably shipped in a fresh state to eastern markets, and in 1911 a product equivalent to 243,010 cases (each containing two dozen 2½-pound cans) of canned cherries were disposed of to advantage. In 1910, there was large shipment of barreled cherries in sulfur water to eastern bottlers who put up maraschino cherries in competition with importations, but this business seems to have transgressed the pure food laws and declined. Until it is demonstrated that such distant demands will increase, present plantations will not be largely extended. Cherries are costly in picking and packing, and the chance of low price in a local market, over-supplied whenever the trees do their full duty, the grower does not enjoy. Cherry-drying has never seemed warranted on a large scale, because of the large amount of labor required to the pound of product; and the grower has had no recourse when the canner and local consumer would pay only the cost of picking and boxing. A good shipping demand seems, therefore, the measure of the extension of California's cherry interest, and the early ripening of the fruit, which permits its sale during the blooming season of eastern cherry trees, is the leading surety of such demand. On several occasions early varieties have been shipped from the Vacaville district overland, on March 31, but the usual opening date is about two weeks later, and thence onward later varieties, and from later regions, may be shipped until July, if found profitable.

But, although there is plenty of good land upon which to multiply the present total of three-quarters of a million trees, the cherry regions of California are restricted. It is one of the most exacting of all trees, and is profitable only when its requirements are respected. About one-half of the present acreage lies in valleys opening upon the bay of San Francisco, where deep and moist, but well-drained alluvial soil fosters strong and sound root-growth, and modified atmospheric aridity favors leaf and fruiting. On similar deep and moist soils, however, the sweet cherry enters the hot interior valleys to certain limits, chiefly along the river bottoms. It abhors dry plains. In dry air it usually refuses to fruit, although, if the soil be moist, it may make stalwart tree-growth. In foot-hill valleys it sometimes does admirably; both in growth and fruiting, and in mountain valleys, above an elevation of 2,000 feet, on good soil, and in the greater rainfall, and even with the snow flurries, which are experienced every year at proper elevations, the tree becomes very thrifty and profitable to the limits of local markets. The tree seems to have no geographical limitations in California; wherever suitable soil and weather conditions occur, it accepts the situation—the Dukes and Morellos succeeding under conditions too trying for the Hearts and Bigarreaus, but the latter, only, are of commercial account.

Cherry trees are grown by budding upon Mazzard and Mahaleb seedlings—both being largely imported. It is customary to plant out in orchards at the end of the first year's growth from the bud, though two-year old cherry trees can be more successfully handled than other two-year -olds. The trees are headed at 1 or 2 feet from the ground, cut back to promote low branching for two years, and then allowed to make long branches, and not usually shortened-in, so long as thrifty and healthy. The tree, in a good environment, is, however, a very hardy tree, and will endure pruning to almost any degree. There are many trees which have made a very broad but not usually high growth, bearing 1,000 pounds of fruit to the tree, and a few others which have even doubled that figure, while others have been dwarfed and trained en espalier. The commercial orchards are, however; uniformly of low trees, approximately of vase form in exterior outline, and with branches curving outward without shortening.

The cherry is very readily grafted over by the usual top-grafting methods, and large orchards have been thus transformed into varieties more acceptable for canning or shipping. Comparatively few varieties are grown. Early Purple Guigne, Chapman and Knights Early Black are grown in early-ripening localities. Black Tartarian, Lewelling and Bing are the mainstay for black cherries. The Napoleon Bigarreau (locally known as Royal Ann) is the ideal for a white cherry, and almost excludes all others, although the Rockport Bigarreau has some standing. Of all the varieties grown, the Black Tartarian and Napoleon (Fig. 909) constitute 70 per cent of the crop, and probably 90 per cent of the amount marketed.

California-grown cherries attain large size; the canner's requirement for fancy fruit is a diameter not less than ⅞of an inch, and for No. 1 not less than ¾of an inch. Wholesale prices usually range from $40 to $60 a ton for black and $80 to $120 for white, but occasionally canners have paid as high as $160 a ton for white cherries. The higher rates can be expected only in years of short crops.CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Sweet cherries are most profitably grown on high, comparatively light, sandy, gravelly or even stony loams, while sour cherries do best on somewhat heavier soils. The former are set 22 to 24 feet apart; the latter 16 to 20 feet. Both respond to care in cultivation which, in brief is: early spring plowing, frequent cultivation until the first of August with a cover-crop sown just before the last cultivation. Cover-crops are various— a favorite one in New York and Michigan is a half bushel of oats or barley, and twelve pounds of clover or twenty pounds of winter vetch. In Delaware and New Jersey the cowpea is much liked as a cover-crop. Cherry trees are usually headed 2 or 3 feet from the ground with a tendency to head them lower—half the above distances; in the lower-headed orchards there seems to be no inconvenience in tilling with modern implements. Nearly all commercial growers form the head with five to seven main branches about a central trunk, but some prefer to remove the central stem, especially in sweet varieties, leaving a vase-formed head. After the head is formed, the subsequent pruning is exceedingly simple, consisting of cutting out an occasional injured or crossed branch and now and then heading-in a long whip-like growth. In soils well adapted to cherry-growing, commercial fertilizers are little needed. Good cultivation, the yearly cover-crop and an occasional dressing of stable-manure furnish an abundance of food. If, with this treatment, the trees fail to make sufficient growth, and if the drainage be good, the grower should experiment with fertilizers containing potash, phosphoric acid or nitrogen to see which, if any, his trees may need.

Cherries are picked with stems on, the sweet a few days before fully ripe, the sour when practically mature. Some growers guard against breaking the fruit-spurs for the next year by using picking scissors. Cherries are variously packed in boxes and baskets but the container is usually a small one and much art may be displayed in placing in layers, facing, and in making the package in all ways attractive. Fruit for canning must be carefully picked but is sent to the cannery in trays holding one or two pecks. The chief commercial plantations in eastern America are found in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, northern Ohio and western Michigan. Sweet-cherry growing is precarious because of natural obstacles, and sour cherries are so easily grown that through very abundance their sale is often difficult. Yet with both success has been attained by many, the profits ranging as high as $300 to the acre. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Both orchard and ornamental cherries are commonly propagated in Europe and America by budding on Mazzard or Mahaleb stocks and in Japan, where cherries are much grown, on Prunus Pseudo-Cerasus. When exceptional hardiness is required, seedlings of the Russian sour cherries may be used or those of Prunus Besseyi or Prunus pennsylvanica. Undoubtedly the Mazzard is the best stock for regions in which cherries can be grown commercially. Upon the Mazzard, varieties of either sweet or sour cherries make larger, thriftier, longer-lived and more productive trees. The Mahaleb, on the other hand, is the best stock from the nurseryman's point of view. It is more easily budded, hardier, freer from insects and fungi as it stands in the nursery before budding, and the buds more quickly develop into salable trees. But the advantages of the Mazzard are so much greater for the fruitgrower that he should accept only trees on this stock unless hardiness be a prime requisite. Cherries are set in the orchard at two years from the bud. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Pests and diseases

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

The cherry is attacked by a dozen or more fungi. Of these, three are serious pests. The brown-rot, Sclerotinia fructigena, attacks the flowers, leaves, twigs and most disastrously the fruits at ripening time. Leaf-blight, Cylindrosporium Padi, produces diseased spots on the leaves, which for the most part drop out, giving a shot-hole effect and eventually causing the foliage to drop prematurely. A common and striking disease of the cherry is black-knot, Plowrightia morbosa, characterized by wart-like excrescences on shoots and branches which at maturity are black; affected parts sooner or later die.

The text-books give no less than forty insect enemies of cherries, of which the plum-curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphor, the peach-borer, Sanninoidea exitiosa, and the San Jose scale, Aspidiotus perniciosus, on sweet cherries, must be combated. All of the pests named, both fungi and insects, are more destructive to plums and peaches, and the reader is referred to these fruits for treatment which is much the same as for the cherry.

Sweet cherries suffer severely in the South and the Mississippi Valley, and somewhat in the North, from sun-scald, either directly from the sun's rays or from alternate freezing and thawing in winter or spring. The injury is manifested by the bursting of the bark and the exudation of gum on the south and west sides of the tree. Some immunity from such injuries may be obtained by protecting the trunks with boards or other screens. "Gummosis," or a flow of gum from the wood, often follows injuries of various kinds and the work of insects and fungi in both sweet and sour cherries. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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