Have you ever considered how many types of Wild Cherry Trees exist? In addition to over 20 of the most common, deliciously scrumptious fruit varieties, this delectable tree has over 400 different species, plus tons more hybrids and cultivated trees to deliver the tastiest and juiciest fruit.
If you’re ready to start planting a cherry tree grove so you can gather your harvest, there are few things to know first.
This guide outlines all the colorful varieties, species, and planting care and maintenance you need to get your orchard flourishing… plus where to buy the best cherry tree saplings.
Wild Cherry Tree
- Family: Rosaceae
- Genus: genus Prunus
- Leaf: Green and unfold like a wallet
- Bark: Brown, gray, or a shade in between
- Seed: Cherry pits
- Blossoms: Light pink to white
- Fruit: Red or black fleshy drupe
- Native Habitat: Western Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas
- Height: Up to 35 feet
- Canopy: Wide growth of thin branches
- Lifespan: 16-30 years
- Type: Deciduous
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking
Interesting fact: cherry blossom trees are wild cherry trees that still produce fruit…they just don’t produce what’s considered edible fruit.
But, just because humans can’t (or won’t) eat the fruit, doesn’t mean that other animals won’t. Indeed, many ornamental cherry trees are great sources of pollinators and food for wild animals.
What Type of Cherry Tree Do I Have (Types of Edible Cherry Trees)
Although there are many varieties of wild cherry trees, the following are some of the most common.
#1. Weeping Cherry Tree (and Dwarf Weeping Cherry Tree)
The weeping cherry tree is a lovely addition to any garden because of its showy white or (most often pink) blooms. However, the fruit is inedible and can get messy, so it’s best to place these trees in areas where the spent blossoms and rotting fruit won’t cause problems.
Related Reading: Magnolia Tree Guide
#2. Black Cherry Tree
A black cherry tree probably isn’t what you’re thinking. These are mainly ornamental trees and are native to the Chicago area (midwest United States.)
The pea-sized fruit grows in clusters that droop, and these trees can grow up to 60 feet tall!
#3. Kwanzan Cherry Tree
Probably the most delicately beautiful cherry tree, the Kwansan cherry tree is a favorite for its wispy, pink blossoms that resemble layers of delicate petals.
This tree can also be used as a bonsai tree!
#4. Japanese Cherry Blossom Tree (a.k.a. Japanese Cherry Tree, Yoshino Cherry Tree, Flowering Cherry Tree)
With a profusion of gorgeous white or pink blossoms, these ornamental cherry trees are a favorite with gardeners around the world. Another non-edible cherry tree, the Japanese cherry tree is known by many names, including the Yoshino cherry tree and Cherry blossom tree.
#5. Cherry Plum Tree
Cherry plum tree fruit has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. The large, luscious fruit has a host of nutrients and features a very yummy, sweet then tart taste.
They have tons of vitamin C and other key vitamins and minerals, including iron. Plus, the trees feature gorgeous purple fruits and stunning blooms that smell heavenly in the spring.
#6. Cherry Laurel Tree
The cherry laurel tree is actually a small shrub, but it gets its name because its foliage smells like the yummy maraschino cherry!
BUT… this plant is highly toxic, so it’s not a good choice in gardens.
Related Reading: Dogwood Tree Guide
#7. Okame Cherry Tree
The Okame cherry tree is another cherry blossom tree that has rich pink blossoms in the spring. Interestingly, this is the tree that was gifted to the United States from Japan and now graces the capital.
#8. Dwarf Cherry Tree
There are many dwarf cherry tree varieties to choose from, which generally get no taller than 15 feet. But, that doesn’t impact fruit production. Trees like the Romero Dwarf cherry tree yield bountiful amounts of tart, dark red fruits, perfect for baking!
Related Reading: Banyan Tree Guide
#9. Rainier Cherry Tree
Rainier cherry tree fruit is known for the peachy-orange color of its delectable fruit. This tree is considered an optimal choice for backyard gardens and orchards.
Related Reading: Everything you ever wanted to know about Oak Tree planting
#11. Barbados Cherry Tree (a.k.a. Acerola Cherry tree)
This tree’s fruit is a rich red color and because they are naturally tart, are perfect for use in jams, jellies, and other preserves.
#12. Meteor Sour Cherry Tree
Who doesn’t love a sour cherry tree? The Meteor sour cherry is a dwarf tree that actually self-pollinates, making it one of the easiest trees to grow.
The delicious fruit is perfect for all sorts of baking, preserving, and eating!
How To Identify a Cherry Tree (Including Cherry Blossom Tree)
Cherry trees are unique in the shape of their leaves, their fruit, and their beautifully scented blossoms. The following tips can help you identify a cherry tree (even in the winter!4)
Related Reading: Cherry Blossom Tree Tips
Cherry Tree Leaves
Cherry trees grow pointed, oval leaves with rough edges that point to the tip. Come spring, the leaves turn dark green, and then yellow and orange come autumn.
Related Reading: Cypress Tree Guide
Cherry tree leaves are about 2-4 inches and alternate from on a branch.
Cherry Tree Seeds
Cherry tree seeds, also known as pits, are hard and typically dark colored, abut the size of a pea, depending on the variety. It’s important to note that not only are cherry seed toxic, the leaves, bark, and twigs are also poisonous, so they should never be consumed.
Cherry tree seedlings have one stem from which the leaves will grow.3
Cherry Tree Bark
The cherry tree’s bark is brown or gray, or a shade of both. It has horizontal lenticels–marks on the bark that look like cuts and are darker or lighter than most of the bark. The bark peels back in places in some cherry trees.
Related Reading: How many trees are in the United States?
Flowers (Cherry Tree Blossom)
Flowers are white and tinged with pale pink close to the stem. They bloom and wilt within a week and when the leaves emerge. In full bloom, the trees look almost all white.
Some trees also feature pink blossoms, but typically, the edible variety will bloom white.
The fruit is a fleshy drupe and heart-shaped, an inch in diameter, and colored yellow to red to almost black. Sweet cherry trees have low acid content, so they aren’t the best for cooking.
The higher acid content of the sour cherry contributes to its tart flavor but makes it perfect for all sorts of recipes.
Where Should I Plant My Cherry Tree? How To Care for Cherry Trees
Cherry trees don’t do well in the shade. They need sun six hours a day, especially if they need to produce fruit.
Several ornamental varieties are more tolerant to shade, but for the cherry tree to be happy, it needs sunshine.
A cherry tree takes about four years to produce its first crop, and six years to grow to maturity.
The cherry tree needs well-drained and fertile soil. Cherry trees are prone to root rot. Therefore, the soil needs to drain well. The tree also needs eight hours of daily sunlight, so must never be planted in shady areas.
Cherry are self-pollinators. This means that a tree can produce fruit without external pollination factors. Still, when planting the sweet variety, one needs at least two trees for adequate pollination.1
It’s crucial to plant cherry trees on higher ground. Low-lying areas can experience frost during early spring and stunt the tree’s bloom and destroy the harvest and crop. When considering cherry tree care, one should have the trees pruned to assist in a bountiful harvest.
Native Region and Habitat Growing Needs of Cherry Tree
Much like many temperate-latitude trees, the cherry tree needs several chilly days each year to interrupt its dormancy and bloom to offer fruit. How many chilly hours depends on the species.
That cold-weather requirement confirms that no members of the genus Prunus can grow in the tropics.
Cherries have a short-lived season and grow in temperate climates.7 Cherries ripen in April. Summer is the peak season in the U.S. for harvesting cherries. It’s June in southern Europe and July in England.2,6
In North America, cherry trees are one of the first tree fruits to flower and ripen in Spring.
Interesting Facts About Cherry Trees, Folklore and Symbolism
The name Cherry comes from the Turkish town of Cerasus. Turkey is still the largest cherry-producing country worldwide. Cherry seeds joined the colonists sailing from Europe in the 1600s.
A cherry tree produces 7 thousand cherries.
The tree grows up to 30 feet.
The cherry tree grows sweet-scented white (or pink) flowers come spring. Cherry harvest starts about four years after planting, but some varieties will produce fruit earlier.
A cherry tree is capable of growing fruit for 100 years… but most cultivated trees do not. Thirty years is about the lifespan.
Scottish folklore warned against any use of the bird cherry wood because it was a witches’ tree. It was also considered bad luck to bring cherry branches indoors.
An old English carol tells the story of Joseph and the pregnant Mary traveling through a cherry orchard on the way to Bethlehem. Mary wanted some of the fruit, but Joseph was testy and told her to get who ‘brought thee with child’ to pick the cherries.
The still unborn Christ then caused the cherry trees to lower their branches so that Mary could pick their fruit. Upon witnessing the miracle, Joseph was suitably repentant.
In Eastern Europe, it was common to cut cherry branches on the Feast of St Barbara. The branches were then welcomed into the warmth of the house where they bloomed in time for Christmas. Some of the blossoms decorated churches at Easter in England.
Medicinal Qualities of Cherry Tree
Cherry trees and their fruit have long been used for medicinal purposes, but the seeds, stems, and leaves can be highly toxic.
NOTE: The following information is not medically evaluated. Consult a physician before conducting any personal remedies.
Wild cherry bark can act in suppressing cough. Herbalists prescribe cherry bark when an ongoing cough continues even after the lung infection has healed.
Cherry bark has healing abilities to alleviate mucus and improve oxygen flow through the airways. It can be mixed with herbs like mullein leaf, marshmallow root, and licorice root to further assist in calming the respiratory system.8
However, remember that cherry tree seeds, leaves, stems, and bark are toxic. Never ingest it.
Wild cherry bark was popular as a poultice salve to heal wounds and skin conditions. Native American tribes found it effective in healing burns and skin ulcers.
The plant’s homeopathic qualities contribute to calming inflammation and improving skin tone, which makes it useful as a skin wash to alleviate puffiness and redness. Should not be used on chapped or dry skin.
Manufacturing of Cherry Tree
The cherry tree’s extensive demands in cultivation and their susceptibility to rain contribute to the fruit’s lesser cost-effectiveness. Still, consumers desire cherries.
In commercial production, cherries can be harvested by a mechanized processor had picked to better avoid the potential harm caused to the tree and its fruit.
Where to Buy Cherry Tree Saplings
It’s always a good idea to purchase tree saplings from a local grower, and cherry trees are no different. A local nursery will have trees that are already hardened to your growing zone.
Plus, a local grower will be able to answer many questions you may have about location, growing tips and more.
Moreover, buy buying a cherry tree locally, you reduce the carbon emissions of the purchase, lowering your eco footprint.
How To Grow Cherry Tree From Seed
To learn how to grow cherry from seed, follow these steps:
Step 1. Place 2-3 cherry pits in a small container that has worm castings and potting soil about 3 inches deep.
Step 2. Keep the soil moist and warm, but now waterlogged.
Step 3. Once the seeds sprout, move to a location where direct sunlight is available at least 4 hours a day.
Step 4. Once the plants are 3 inches tall, carefully remove them to another container, with potting soil.
Step 5. Once the plants have grown another 2-3 inches and the roots are established well, transplant into a larger container (about twice as big).
Step 6. Repeat step 5 until the trees are strong enough to be placed in their final growing location.
How Much Carbon Does a Cherry Tree Sequester?
The U.S. cherry tree population can soak up about three tons of carbon each year. One car’s yearly emissions can be absorbed by 250 mature trees.
When used for carbon offset, trees have the power to not only remove emissions from the atmosphere, but also provide a sustainable source of food for both humans and wild animals. Reach out to one of the top carbon offset providers to learn more.
The Cherry tree is beloved for more than one reason. Its delicious fruit, beautiful blossoms, and lovely scent make the cherry tree one of the world’s favorites.
Where Do Cherry Trees Grow Best?
Plant cherry trees where they can get full sunlight, and have well drained soil. Check the variety for the best growing zones for the particular tree you plan to plant.
Do I Need 2 Cherry Trees to Get Fruit?
Cherry trees self-pollinate, so you don’t need two, like with other fruits such as apples.
How Do I Identify My Cherry Tree?
The leaves, the fruit and the blossoms are the bet way to identify a cherry tree.
How Can You Tell if a Cherry Tree Is Edible? What Does a Poisonous Cherry Tree Look Like?
Wild cherry trees, sometimes referred to as Black cherries have parts of the tree that are poisonous. Indeed, all cherry tree bark, pits, twigs and leaves can be toxic. Do not eat cherry pits or chew the wood.
Are There Any Poisonous Cherry Trees?
Although all cherries are edible, the pits, twigs, bark and leaves are toxic.
Read More About Cherry Tree
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2Leafy Place. (2022). Types of Cherry Trees with Their Leaves and Flowers – Identification Guide (Pictures). Leafy Place. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://leafyplace.com/cherry-trees/>
3SF Gate Contributor. (2020, August 10). Identification Guide for Cherry Trees. SF Gate. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://homeguides.sfgate.com/identification-guide-cherry-trees-95081.html>
4Smyth, D. (2020, August 24). How to Identify Cherry Trees. SF Gate. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://homeguides.sfgate.com/identify-cherry-trees-53918.html>
5Arbor Day Foundation. (2022). Bing Cherry. Arbor Day Foundation. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://shop.arborday.org/bing-cherry>
6Wikipedia. (2022, July 20). Southern Europe. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Europe>
7Wikipedia. (2022, July 26). Temperate climate. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperate_climate>
8Euphoric Herbals. (2020, June 29). Licorice Root Benefits + Simple Ways to Use It. Euphoric Herbals. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <https://www.euphoricherbals.com/blogs/news/licorice-root-benefits-simple-ways-to-use-it>
9Photo by shell_ghostcage, Photo by hansbenn, Photo by hansiline via <https://pixabay.com/>
10Photo by Rocky Mountain National Park via <https://www.nps.gov/romo/chokecherries.htm>
11Anne Burgess / Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) / CC BY-SA 2.0 via <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cherry_Laurel_%28Prunus_laurocerasus%29_-_geograph.org.uk_-_405460.jpg>
12K. Mitch Hodge. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/hy3VP4iZxNQ>
13Nagara Oyodo. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/PUeQc22oX60>
14Okame Cherries blooming by Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2016-03-12_10_26_21_Okame_Cherries_blooming_at_the_Lawrence_Road_Presbyterian_Church_in_Lawrence,_New_Jersey.jpg>
15Prunus avium by Benjamin Gimmel / CC BY-SA 3.0. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frühling_blühender_Kirschenbaum.jpg>
16Rainier cherry branch by Christopher Thomas / CC BY-SA 2.5. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rainier_Cherries.JPG>
17Bing cherry branch by Christopher Thomas / CC BY-SA 2.5. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bing_Cherries.JPG>