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Prunus avium, sweet cherry, also called wild cherry
A cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit).
The cherry fruits of commerce usually are obtained from cultivars of a limited number of species such as the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and the sour cherry (Prunus cerasus). The name 'cherry' also refers to the cherry tree and its wood, and is sometimes applied to almonds and visually similar flowering trees in the genus Prunus, as in "ornamental cherry" or "cherry blossom". Wild cherry may refer to any of the cherry species growing outside cultivation, although Prunus avium is often referred to specifically by the name "wild cherry" in the British Isles.
The English word cherry derives from Old Northern French or Normancherise from the Latin cerasum, referring to an ancient Greek region, Kerasous () near Giresun, Turkey, from which cherries were first thought to be exported to Europe.
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 is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.
Cherries arrived in North America early in the settlement of Brooklyn, New York (then called "New Netherland") when the region was under Dutch sovereignty. Trades people leased or purchased land to plant orchards and produce gardens, "Certificate of Corielis van Tienlioven that he had found 12 apple, 40 peach, 73 cherry trees, 26 sage plants.., behind the house sold by Anthony Jansen from Salee [Morocco, Africa] to Barent Dirksen [Dutchmen],... ANNO 18th of June 1639."
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, Colt, 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.
Like most temperate-latitude trees, cherry seeds require exposure to cold to germinate (an adaptation which prevents 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 in the field to produce its first crop of fruit, and seven years to attain full maturity. Because of the cold-weather requirement, no members of the genus Prunus can grow in tropical climates.
Cherries have a short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. Cherries blossom in April (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the peak season for the cherry harvest is in the summer. In southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in England in mid-July, and in southern British Columbia (Canada) in June to mid-August. In many parts of North America, they are among the first tree fruits to flower and ripen in mid-Spring.
In the Southern Hemisphere, cherries are usually at their peak in late December and are widely associated with Christmas. 'Burlat' is an early variety which ripens during the beginning of December, 'Lapins' ripens near the end of December, and 'Sweetheart' finish slightly later.
Pests and diseases
Generally, the cherry can be a difficult fruit tree to grow and keep alive. 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 1 mm diameter), 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 of the fruit, root rot from overly wet soil, crown rot, and several viruses.
Rainier cherries from the state of Washington, USA
In 2014, world production of sweet cherries was 2.25 million tonnes, with Turkey producing 20% of this total. Other major producers of sweet cherries were the United States and Iran. World production of sour cherries in 2014 was 1.36 million tonnes, led by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Poland.
Most cherry varieties have a chilling requirement of 800 or more hours, meaning that in order to break dormancy, blossom, and set fruit, the winter season needs to have at least 800 hours where the temperature is below 45 °F (7 °C). "Low chill" varieties requiring 300 hours or less are Minnie Royal and Royal Lee, requiring cross-pollinization, whereas the cultivar, Royal Crimson, is self-fertile. These varieties extend the range of cultivation of cherries to the mild winter areas of southern US. This is a boon to California producers of sweet cherries, as California is the second largest producer of sweet cherries in the US.
Native and non-native sweet cherries grow well in Canada's provinces of Ontario and British Columbia where an annual cherry festival has been celebrated for seven consecutive decades 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', 'Lapins', '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 the 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.
Compared to sweet cherries, raw sour cherries contain slightly higher content per 100 g of vitamin C (12% DV) and vitamin A (8% DV) (table).
Cherry wood is valued for its rich color and straight grain in manufacturing fine furniture, particularly desks, tables and chairs.
Italian Prunus avium, commonly called wild cherry, sweet cherry, or gean.
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 List of Prunus species. 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.
^Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. (1949). Aubrey's Brief Lives. p. xliii. The curious antiquaryJohn 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.
^"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." ("A View of the Parish". Teynham Parish. Archived from the original on 2008-09-22.)
^New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch(PDF). Volume I: Register of the Provincial Secretary 1638-1642. Translated and Annotated by A.J.F. van Laer. Edited with Added Indexes by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. 1974. Archived(PDF) from the original on 2016-08-22.