From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Description and ecology
, commonly called wild cherry
, sweet cherry
, bird cherry
, or gean
, is a species of cherry native to Europe, western Turkey, northwestern Africa, and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Morocco and Tunisia, north to the Trondheimsfjord region in Norway and east to the Caucasus and northern Iran, with a small disjunct population in the western Himalaya. This species, in the rose family (Rosaceae), has a diploid set of sixteen chromosomes (2n=16). All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit are slightly toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides.
is a deciduous tree growing to 15–32 m (50-100 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m (5 ft) in diameter. Young trees show strong apical dominance with a straight trunk and symmetrical conical crown, becoming rounded to irregular on old trees. The bark is smooth purplish-brown with prominent horizontal grey-brown lenticels on young trees, becoming thick dark blackish-brown and fissured on old trees. The leaves are alternate, simple ovoid-acute, 7–14 cm (3–6 in) long and 4–7 cm (2–3 in) broad, glabrous matt or sub-shiny green above, variably finely downy beneath, with a serrated margin and an acuminate tip, with a green or reddish petiole 2–3.5 cm (0.8-1.4 in) long bearing two to five small red glands. The tip of each serrated edge of the leaves also bear small red glands. In autumn, the leaves turn orange, pink or red before falling. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the new leaves, borne in corymbs of two to six together, each flower pendent on a 2–5 cm (0.8-2 in) peduncle, 2.5–3.5 cm (1-1.4 in) in diameter, with five pure white petals, yellowish stamens, and a superior ovary; they are hermaphroditic, and pollinated by bees. The fruit is a drupe 1–2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) in diameter (larger in some cultivated selections), bright red to dark purple when mature in midsummer, edible, variably sweet to somewhat astringent and bitter to eat fresh. Each fruit contains a single hard-shelled stone 8–12 mm long, 7–10 mm wide and 6–8 mm thick, grooved along the flattest edge; the seed (kernel) inside the stone is 6–8 mm long.
The fruit are readily eaten by numerous kinds of birds and mammals, which digest the fruit flesh and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some rodents, and a few birds (notably the Hawfinch), also crack open the stones to eat the kernel inside. All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit are slightly toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides.
The leaves provide food for some animals, including Lepidoptera such as the case-bearer moth Coleophora anatipennella
The tree exudes a gum from wounds in the bark, by which it seals the wounds to exclude insects and fungal infections.
The early history of its classification is somewhat confused. In the first edition of Species Plantarum
(1753), Linnaeus treated it as only a variety, Prunus cerasus var. avium
, citing Gaspard Bauhin's Pinax theatri botanici
(1596) as a synonym; his description, Cerasus racemosa hortensis
("Cherry with racemes, of gardens") shows it was described from a cultivated plant. Linnaeus then changed from a variety to a species Prunus avium
in the second edition of his Flora Suecica
means "bird cherry" in the Latin language. In English, the name Bird cherry refers to Prunus padus
Wild cherry has been known as Gean or Mazzard (also 'massard'), both were largely obsolete names in modern English.
More recently 'Mazzard' has been used to refer to a selected self-fertile cultivar that comes true from seed, and which is used as a seedling rootstock for fruiting cultivars. This term is still used particularly for the varieties of P. avium
grown in North Devon and cultivated there, particularly in the orchards at Landkey.
The name "wild cherry" has also been applied in a general or colloquial sense to other species of Prunus
growing in their native habitats, particularly to the North American black cherry (Prunus serotina
Cultivation and uses
Wild cherries have been an item of human food for several thousands of years. The stones have been found in deposits at Bronze Age settlements throughout Europe, including in Britain. In one dated example, Wild cherry macrofossils were found in a core sample from the detritus beneath a dwelling at an Early and Middle Bronze Age pile-dwelling site on and in the shore of a former lake at Desenzano del Garda or Lonato, near the southern shore of Lake Garda, Italy. The date is estimated at Early Bronze Age IA, carbon dated there to 2077 BC plus or minus 10 years. The natural forest was largely cleared at that time.
By 800 BC, cherries were being actively cultivated in Asia Minor, and soon after in Greece.
As the main ancestor of the cultivated sweet cherry, the Wild cherry is one of the two cherry species which supply most of the world's commercial cultivars of edible cherry (the other is the Sour cherry Prunus cerasus
, mainly used for cooking; a few other species have had a very small input). Various cherry cultivars are now grown worldwide wherever the climate is suitable; the number of cultivars is now very large. The species has also escaped from cultivation and become naturalised in some temperate regions, including southwestern Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the northeast and northwest of the United States.
It is often cultivated as a flowering tree. Because of the size of the tree, it is often used in parkland, and less often as a street or garden tree. The double-flowered form, 'Plena', is commonly found, rather than the wild single-flowered forms.
Two interspecific hybrids, P. x schmittii
(P. avium x P. canescens
) and P. x fontenesiana
(P. avium x P. mahaleb
) are also grown as ornamental trees.
The hard, reddish-brown wood (cherry wood) is valued as a hardwood for woodturning, and making cabinets and musical instruments. Cherry wood is also used for smoking foods, particularly meats, in North America, as it lends a distinct and pleasant flavor to the product.
The gum from bark wounds is aromatic and can be chewed as a substitute for chewing gum.
Medicine can be prepared from the stalks of the drupes that is astringent, antitussive, and diuretic.
A green dye can also be prepared from the plant.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus
, and is a fleshy drupe (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' 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.
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 or none along one side. 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.
Most eating cherries are derived from either Prunus avium
, the wild cherry (sometimes called the sweet cherry), or from Prunus cerasus
, the sour cherry.
Etymology and antiquity
The native range of the wild 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, modern day Turkey, 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.
The English word cherry
, French cerise
and Spanish cereza
all come from the classical Greek through the Latin cerasum
, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, today a city in northern Turkey Giresun from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.
Cherry trees also provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera.
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, 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.
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 in late December, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in south British Columbia (Canada) in July to mid-August, and in the UK in mid-July. In many parts of North America, they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.
'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 in the Southern Hemisphere.
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 family can grow in tropical climates.
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 - 2009 (in thousand metric tons)
United States 390.7
Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.7
World Total 2,196.1
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Major commercial cherry orchards in West Asia and Europe are in Turkey (mainly Anatolia), Italy and Spain, and to a smaller extent in the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia.
In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Important sweet cherry cultivars include 'Bing', 'Brooks', 'Tulare', 'King', 'Sweetheart', and 'Rainier'. 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. Additionally, native and non-native cherries grow well in Canada (Ontario and British Columbia). 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.
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.
Cherries (sweet, edible parts) Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263 kJ (63 kcal)
Carbohydrates 16 g
- Sugars 13 g
- Dietary fibre 2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 1.1 g
Vitamin C 7 mg (8%)
Iron 0.4 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
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.
Dried cherry fruit infused with raspberry concentrate are sold commercially under the name razzcherries. The wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture.