Cherry Tree Guide: 12 Colors, Species, How to Plant (Best Way to Buy)

Close up of Cherry Tree fruit, bright red cherries in a cluster surrounded by pointed oval leaves framed in a green oval frame.

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

(Prunus avium)

  • 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

Least Concern


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

Weeping Cherry tree canopy view from the ground.

(Image: shell_ghostcage9)

Low-angle shot of a Black Cherry tree showing its foliage clusters of tiny white flowers.

(Image: AnRo000210)

#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!

Kwanzan Cherry trees situated in a park showing their pink blossoms.

(Image: K. Mitch Hodge12)

#4. Japanese Cherry Blossom Tree (a.k.a. Japanese Cherry Tree, Yoshino Cherry Tree, Flowering Cherry Tree)

Japanese Cherry Blossom trees showing crowns full of blooming pale pink flowers and dark-colored branches with the sky in the background.

(Image: Nagara Oyodo13)

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.

Cherry tree fruit, bright red berries on a cluster surrounded by green cherry tree leaves.

(Image: Hansbenn18)

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.

Close-up photo of a Cherry Laurel flowers and green leaves.

(Image: Anne Burgess11)

#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.

Lush pink cherry blossom trees in full bloom, framing a serene park setting with benches and a clear blue sky.

(Image: Famartin14)

Top shot of a stem of Steepe Cherry tree with green leaves and shiney red cherry fruits.

(Image: Kristof Zyskowski & Yulia Bereshpolov15)

#8. Dwarf Cherry Tree

There are many dwarf cherry tree varieties to choose from, like the Steppe cherry which generally gets no taller than 15 feet.

But, the height doesn’t impact fruit production. Trees like the Romeo 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.

Ranier Cherry fruits showing fruits with red and yellow skin and long fruit stems.

(Image: LovelyLillith16)

Related Reading: Everything you ever wanted to know about Oak Tree planting

Low-angle shot of Bing Cherry tree showing branches with serrated green leaves and dark cherry fruits.

(Image: Christopher Thomas17)

#10. Bing Cherry Tree

Probably one of the most famous varieties, Bing Cherry tree fruit is large, lusciously delicious, and perfect for consuming raw.5

#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.

Barbados Cherry showing varying colors of the unripe and ripe fruits.

(Image: Alongkorn Tengsamut20)

Close-up photo of a Meteor Sour Cherry Tree bearing red cherries.

#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.

Cherry tree leaf identification chart with images of Black Cherry Tree leaf, Cherry Plum Tree leaf, Weeping Cherry Tree leaf, Kwanzan Cherry Tree leaf, and Okame Cherry Tree leaf in circle frames.

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 seed pod identification chart showing black cherry, okame cherry, rainier cherry, cherry plum, and bing cherry tree seeds in oval frames.

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.

Graphic of the Cherry Tree Identification Chart with Black Cherry Tree leaves, Rainier cherry tree, Kwanzan cherry tree fruits, okame cherry tree flowers, and cherry plum tree bark in oval frames.

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.

Cough Soother

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.

Skin Soother

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.

Close up of grey, ridged and ringed cherry tree bark.

(Image: hansiline19)

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cherry Tree

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.


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4Smyth, D. (2020, August 24). How to Identify Cherry Trees. SF Gate. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <>

5Arbor Day Foundation. (2022). Bing Cherry. Arbor Day Foundation. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <>

6Wikipedia. (2022, July 20). Southern Europe. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <>

7Wikipedia. (2022, July 26). Temperate climate. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <>

8Euphoric Herbals. (2020, June 29). Licorice Root Benefits + Simple Ways to Use It. Euphoric Herbals. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from <>

9Photo by shell_ghostcage. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

10Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) Photo by AnRo0002. Public Domain. Wikimedia. From <>

11Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) Photo by Anne Burgess / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED. Resized and Changed Format. From <>

12K. Mitch Hodge. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

13Nagara Oyodo. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

14Okame Cherries blooming by Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <,_New_Jersey.jpg>

15Rosaceae: Prunus fruticosa (steppe cherry, ground cherry, dwarf cherry) Photo by Kristof Zyskowski & Yulia Bereshpolov / CC BY 2.0 DEED. Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

16Washington USA Rainier cherries Photo by LovelyLillith / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

17Bing cherry branch by Christopher Thomas / CC BY-SA 2.5. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <>

18Photo by hansbenn. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

19Photo by hansiline. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

20Photo by Alongkorn Tengsamut. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

21Featured Image and Species Information Image: Cherry, cherry tree, red berries, and plant Photo by Gala Iv. (2021, June 6) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved July 27, 2022 and October 11, 2022, from <>