Any of various trees of the genus Prunus and their edible fruits. Most are native to the Northern Hemisphere, where they are widely grown. Three types are grown mainly for their fruit: sweet cherries (P. avium); sour, or tart, cherries (P. cerasus); and, to a much lesser extent, dukes (crosses of sweet and sour cherries). Sweet-cherry trees are large, and their fruit is generally heart-shaped to nearly globular, varies in colour from yellow through red to nearly black, and has a low acid content. Sour-cherry trees are smaller and bear fruit that is round to oblate, generally dark red, and more acidic. Dukes are intermediate in both tree and fruit characteristics. The wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture. Ornamental varieties selected for the beauty of their flowers are a common feature of gardens.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cherry, visit Britannica.com.