A cherry is both a tree
and its fleshy fruit, a type known as a drupe with a single hard
pit enclosing the seed. The cherry belongs to the family Rosaceae,
genus Prunus (along with almonds, peaches, plums, and apricots).
Sweet and sour cherries are different species, P. avium and P.
cerasus, respectively. Both species originate in Europe and western
Asia, with major commercial orchards extending from Iberia east
to Asia Minor; they are also grown to a smaller extent north to
the British Isles and southern Scandinavia. In the United States,
most sweet cherries are grown in the West. California and Washington
supply mainly sweet cherries intended for fresh use. Major sweet
cherry varieties include the Bing, Brooks, Tulare, King, and Rainier.
Oregon and Michigan provide light-colored Royal Ann (Napoleon)
cherries for the maraschino cherry process. Most tart cherries
are grown in four states bordering the Great Lakes – Michigan,
New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
As well as the
fruit, cherries also have attractive flowers, and they are commonly
planted for their flower display in spring. Some flowering cherry
trees (known as 'ornamental cherries') have the stamens replaced
by additional petals ("double" flowers), so are sterile
and do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their blossom
and decorative value. The Japanese sakura, in particular, is a
national symbol celebrated in the yearly Hanami festival. Cherries
have a very short fruiting season. In Australia, they are usually
at their peak around Christmas time, and in the UK they are generally
ready for picking in early summer.
Are From The U.S.D.A.