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The indigenous range of the sweet cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia, and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed throughout its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.
Cherries were introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent, by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.
Cherries arrived in North America early in the settlement of Brooklyn, New York when the region was under Dutch sovereignty. Trades people leased or purchased land to plant orchards and produce gardens.
The cultivated forms are of the species sweet cherry (P. avium) to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the sour cherry (P. cerasus), which is used mainly for cooking. Both species originate in Europe and western Asia; they do not cross-pollinate. Some other species, although having edible fruit, are not grown extensively for consumption, except in northern regions where the two main species will not grow. Irrigation, spraying, labor, and their propensity to damage from rain and hail make cherries relatively expensive. Nonetheless, demand is high for the fruit. In commercial production, cherries are harvested by using a mechanized 'shaker'. Hand picking is also widely used to harvest the fruit to avoid damage to both fruit and trees.
A cherry tree will take three to four years in the field to produce its first crop of fruit, and seven years to attain full maturity.
Regarding world production of sweet cherries was 2.25 million tons, with Turkey producing 20% of this total. Other major producers of sweet cherries were the United States and Iran. World production of sour cherries in 2014 was 1.36 million tons, led by Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey.
Raw sweet cherries are 82% water, 16% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and negligible in fat. As a raw fruit, sweet cherries provide little nutrient content per 100 g serving. Dietary fiber and vitamin C are present in moderate content while other vitamins and dietary minerals each supply less than 10% of the Daily Value (DV) per serving, respectively.