Cherry tree blossoms ()
Formation of the cherry fruit
at beginning of May (France)
Ripe Bing cherries ()
A cherry is both a tree and its fleshy fruit, a type known as a drupe with a single hard stone enclosing the seed. The cherry belongs to the Family Rosaceae, Genus Prunus (along with almonds, peaches, plums, and apricots). Sweet and tart cherries are different species: P. avium and P. cerasus, respectively.
In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in the West. Washington and California supply mainly dark, sweet Bing cherries intended for fresh use, while 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.
Some flowering cherry trees (known as 'ornamental cherries') do not bear edible fruit. They are grown purely for their blossom and decorative value.
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. Annual world production (as of 2003) of cherries is about 3 million tonnes (one third are sour cherries).