Several kinds or types of small stone-fruits ripening in late spring and in summer, widespread and popular in domestic and commercial use. Figs. 906-910. Plate XXI.

Cherry.   Specimen fruits of one of the heart cherries

Plate XXI. Cherry. - Specimen fruits of one of the heart cherries

Sweet and sour cherries have been domesticated from two Old World species: cultivated sweet cherries having come from Prunus avium and the sour cherries from Prunus Cerasus. Varieties of these two species, and hybrids between them, now encircle the globe in the north temperate zone and are being rapidly disseminated throughout the temperate parts of the southern hemisphere. For centuries, probably from the beginnings of agriculture, cherries have been valuable fruit-producing trees in Europe and Asia,-inhabitants of nearly every orchard and garden as well as common roadside trees in temperate climates of both continents.

Coming from the Old World to the New, the cherry has played an important part in the orcharding in temperate regions of the western hemisphere. In North America, varieties of one or the other of the two cultivated species are grown from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island on the north, southward to the Gulf of California, Texas and Florida, probably yielding crops in a greater diversity of soils and climates on this continent than any other tree fruit.

Sour cherries are suited to many environments, thriving in various soils and withstanding rather better than most orchard fruits heat, cold and atmospheric dryness, and though they respond to good care, yet they thrive under neglect better than most other tree fruits. Sour cherries also have fewer insect and fungous troubles than other tree fruits, being practically immune to the dreaded San Jose scale. Sweet cherries, however, are much less easily grown. Sweet varieties are all somewhat fastidious as to soils, are lacking in hardiness to both heat and cold, are prey to more insects than sour cherries and subject to nearly all of the fungous ills to which stone-fruits are heir, suffering in America in particular from brown-rot and leaf-spot.

Sweet cherries can be grown with commercial success in but few and comparatively limited regions, although the localities adapted to sweet varieties are rather widely distributed.

The cherry is probably the most popular of temperate climate fruits for the home yard, being planted more commonly than any other tree-fruit, in the many regions in which it is grown, in the dooryard, garden and along the roadside. The characters, other than those already named, that commend it for home plantations, are, early bearing after planting, early ripening in the season, regularity in bearing, great fruitfulness and ease of culture. It is more than a home fruit, however, and is largely grown for the markets, for canning and for preserving. In America, the consumption of cherries is being greatly increased by the fashion of adding them preserved to many ices and drinks. The demand for canned cherries has also increased enormously in this country during the last few years. In Europe, wine is made from cherries, "kirschwasser," a spirit, is distilled from the fermented fruit pulp, and in the Austrian province of Dalmatia a cordial called maraschino is made by a secret process of fermentation and distillation.

This liquor is imported to America in considerable quantities to flavor preserved cherries which become the well-known "maraschino cherries" of confection and delicatessen shops.

Other Species

Several species of cherries other than the two named have more or less horticultural value. Primus Padus and Prunus Mahaleb of the Old World furnish fruits sometimes used for culinary purposes but much more cultivated, in their various forms, as ornamentals; the latter furnishes a stock upon which orchard varieties are now most commonly budded. Prunus Besseyi, Prunus pumila and Prunus pennsylvanica are species from North America, the first two having varieties cultivated for their fruits and all three being used as ornamentals and for stocks. Prunus Pseudo-Cerasus and Prunus tomentosa from Asia are much grown in China and Japan as ornamentals, for their fruits and as stocks, and should find favor in Europe and America for these purposes. In recent years many new species of cherries have been discovered in Asia. E. Koehne, one of the best authorities on the genus Prunus, places 120 species, nearly all from Asia, in the subgenus Cerasus to which belong the orchard cherries (Mitt. Deut. Dendrol. Gesell., 1912:168-183), A few of these have already been introduced in America by the United States Department of Agriculture, and from them one is sure to find valuable horticultural species to be used for their fruits, as ornamentals, as stocks, and for hybridization with species already domesticated.

Tall erect growth of sweet cherry.

Fig. 906. Tall erect growth of sweet cherry.


Both orchard and ornamental cherries are commonly propagated in Europe and America by budding on Mazzard or Mahaleb stocks and in Japan, where cherries are much grown, on Prunus Pseudo-Cerasus. When exceptional hardiness is required, seedlings of the Russian sour cherries may be used or those of Prunus Besseyi or Prunus pennsylvanica. Undoubtedly the Mazzard is the best stock for regions in which cherries can be grown commercially. Upon the Mazzard, varieties of either sweet or sour cherries make larger, thriftier, longer-lived and more productive trees. The Mahaleb, on the other hand, is the best stock from the nurseryman's point of view. It is more easily budded, hardier, freer from insects and fungi as it stands in the nursery before budding, and the buds more quickly develop into salable trees. But the advantages of the Mazzard are so much greater for the fruitgrower that he should accept only trees on this stock unless hardiness be a prime requisite. Cherries are set in the orchard at two years from the bud.