The Cherry, of the cultivated varieties, is said to have been first introduced into Italy in the year 73, from a town in Pontus, in Asia, called Cerasus, whence its specific name; and it was introduced into Britain one hundred and twenty years afterward.
The Romans had eight species in Pliny's time, red, black, tender-fleshed, hard-fleshed, small bitter-flavoured, and heart-shaped. There are now upward of two hundred in cultivation. The French divide their Cherries into griottes, or tender-fleshed; bigarreau, or heart-shaped; and guignes, or small fruit. The fruit of many varieties is somewhat heart-shaped, whence they are called ox-heart, white-heart, black-heart, &c; why some sorts are called dukes, is not so obvious. The morello cherry is very different from the other varieties, bearing almost exclusively from the preceding year's wood, and the pulp of the fruit having the consistence and flavour of the fungi called morel, whence the name. The Chinese Cherry is valuable on account of its bearing an excellent fruit, and ripening it in forcing-houses.
Cherries are grafted or budded on seedlings from Cherry stones, and from seedlings of the red and black mazzard. For dwarfing they are worked on the morello, or perfumed
Cherry trees, in general, produce the fruit upon small spurs or studs, from half an inch to two inches in length, which proceed from the sides and ends of the two year, three year, and older branches; and as new spurs continue shooting from the extreme parts, it is a maxim in pruning both standards and espaliers, not to shorten the bearing branches when there is room for their regular extension.
The Morello is in some degree an exception, as it bears principally on the shoots of. the preceding year, the fruit proceeding immediately from the eyes of shoots; and bears but casually, and in a small degree, on close spurs formed on the two-year-old wood, and scarcely ever on wood of the third year; therefore, in pruning, leave a supply of young shoots on all the branches from the origin to the extremity of the tree, for next year's bearers.
All kinds of Cherry trees, except the Morello, are apt to grow very tall; to remedy this, and to enable them to form handsome heads, the leading shoot should be cut off when of about three years' growth from the bud; after which give only occasional pruning, to reform or remove any casual irregularity from cross-placed or very crowded branches, and take away all cankery and decayed wood.
Dwarf Cherry trees may be introduced into the Kitchen Garden, and trained as espaliers, etc. When Morellos are planted in an orchard, they may be placed from fifteen to twenty feet apart; trees of the duke kind may be planted from twenty-five to thirty feet apart; and the heart-shaped, in general, will require to be from thirty to forty feet from each other, or from any spreading trees.
Cherry trees may be removed the first year after the bud is established; but they will bear removal at any time before they come into bearing, which is about the fifth year.
The gum which exudes from Cherry trees is equal to Gum Arabic; and Hasselquist relate, "that more than one hundred men, during a siege, were kept alive for nearly two months, without any other sustenance than a little of this gum taken sometimes into the mouth, and suffered gradually to dissolve." The wood is hard and tough, and used by the turner and cabinet maker.