Cherry — The word cherry refers to a fleshy fruit (drupe) that contains a single stony seed. The cherry belongs to the family Rosaceae, genus Prunus, along with almonds, peaches, plums, apricots and bird cherries. The subgenus, Cerasus, is distinguished by having the flowers in small corymbs of several together (not singly, nor in racemes), and by having a smooth fruit with only a weak groove or none along one side. The subgenus is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder in Asia. The word “cherry” comes from the French word “cerise,” which comes in turn from the Latin words cerasum and Cerasus.
As well as the fruit, cherries also have attractive flowers, and they are commonly planted for their flower display in spring; several of the Asian cherries are particularly noted for their flower display. The Japanese sakura in particular are a national symbol celebrated in the yearly Hanami festival. Many flowering cherry cultivars (known as ‘ornamental cherries’) have the stamens and pistils replaced by additional petals (“double” flowers), so are sterile and do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their flowers and decorative value. The most common of these sterile cherries is the cultivar ‘Kanzan’. Cherry trees provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera.