Learn about the many different types of cherries enjoyed around the world. Get to know the basic and specific types, see photos, and discover the distinct traits of each type.
Cherry trees are flowering plants that belong to the Rosaceae family. These fruit trees originated in Europe, Asia, and the northern parts of Africa. Cherry trees can be found in temperate regions around the world, but interestingly, can’t be cultivated in tropical areas.
A given cherry tree can produce around 7,000 cherries per year, but will only begin yielding fruit three to four years after planting. This type of fruit tree matures after seven years and can still bear fruit around 100 years of age.
There are around two million total cherries produced each year within the cherry season. Turkey is the leading country in cherry production.
Cherries Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your cherry options.
Basic Types of Cherries
Though there are many different classifications of cherries, many of the cherry varieties we’ll discuss below overlap into other classifications, as well. For example, most dark red cherries are also sweet to taste with an overall good flavor, and many red cherries can be tart. We’ll provide a basic overview below, with lists of the cherries that fall into each category, before diving into more in-depth information about each cherry variety.
Dark Red Cherry
Dark red cherries tend to be sweet-tasting and incredibly juicy. These delicious fruits can be eaten as fresh cherries after washing, or can be used in any dish to add sweetness and fruitiness to it.
Some dark red cherry varieties include the Attika cherry, the Chelan cherry, the Bing cherry, the Benton cherry, the Santina cherry, the Tieton cherry, the Skeena cherry, the Cowiche cherry, the Regina cherry, the Lapins cherry, the Kiona cherry, the Selah cherry, and the sweetheart cherry variety, among others.
When most people imagine or draw cherries, they think of them as being red in color. A few red cherry varieties include the Lambert cherry, the Montmorency cherry, and the Morella cherry.
Many of these cherry types are tart or even sour in flavor, making them ideal for use in sweets and baked goods, like cherry pie. The more tart cherry varieties are also often pressed into cherry juice or made into dried cherries for use in cooking.
“Sour cherry” is not just a flavor of candy – it’s also a variety of the fruit from which it gets its name! As stated previously, sour, or tart, cherries are the cherry type most often pressed into cherry juice or made into dried cherries for use in cooking.
Some types of sour cherries include the aptly named Montmorency tart cherry and the Morello cherry, though the Montmorency tart cherry is the more popular cherry variety of the two listed here.
As stated previously in this article, the majority of dark red cherries tend to also have a sweet flavor. There are few things more satisfying than a handful of fresh cherries on a summer’s day, and a few popular sweet cherry varieties include the Bing cherry, the Benton cherry, and the Chelan cherry.
A few other cherry types tend to have a sweet flavor, as well. For example, the Rainier cherry, named for Washington state’s Mount Rainier, is a sweet cherry variety, as is the stardust cherry. Both these types of cherries are yellow in color, with a pink or red blush. This red blush means that they are not only sweet to eat; they’re also a treat for the eyes!
We discussed two types of yellow cherries above: the Rainier cherry and the stardust cherry. Both of these cherry varieties are sweet, and have a pink or red blush to their skin. Another yellow cherry variety is called the Early Robin cherry.
However, due to the lightness in color of yellow cherries, it’s difficult to hide bruises on the fruits. This is a benefit to anyone buying cherries, as they can see which have been damaged and which are in better shape.
Specific Cherry Varieties (Names)
The Attika cherry originated in the Czech Republic and eventually made its way into the U.S. These cherry trees typically bear fruit that is ready for harvesting in the mid- to late season. Attika cherry trees can be grown in zones five through seven.
Attika cherry fruit are dark red and taste sweet, with a crunchy and firm texture. The fruits of the Attika cherry tree are large, long, and heart-shaped. These fruits are also durable, making them ideal for transport across long distances.
The Benton cherry tree is one of the few cherry tree varieties that is self-pollinating. This is a hearty type of cherry tree that was developed at Washington State University. A Benton cherry tree requires full sunlight to flourish, blossom and bear fruit.
Benton cherry fruits are a beautiful shade of red and are medium to large in size. They bloom late in the cherry season and have a wonderful and sweet flavor. Benton cherries are also firm and have a great aftertaste.
A Bing cherry tree’s fruits are dark red and rather round, not to mention quite sweet. If you encounter great-tasting cherries in a grocery store, they are liable to be this type of cherry. Bing cherries pack a lot of punch in their small size; the darker they are, the riper they are. Bing cherries are not a sour cherry type, and eating them regularly has been known to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure in human adults. Moreover, you can find many different recipes that use this type of cherry, and all of them promise to be delicious.
The Chelan cherry originated in Washington and is named for the state’s most well-known mountain peak. The fruit of this type of cherry tree is dark red in color, almost black, leading to its nickname, the “black cherry.” These cherry fruits are heart-shaped and round and are resistant to cracking, which means that they are both visually appealing and have a longer shelf life than other types of cherries.
Chelan cherries taste mild and sweet, and they ripen in mid-June, making them blossom and ready to harvest around two weeks sooner than the popular Bing cherry variety, and one of the earliest cherry types overall to be ready for harvesting. They are made up of almost 20 percent sugar and, therefore, have a wonderful flavor, making them perfect for a variety of dishes.
Cowiche™ cherries have a beautiful dark red skin and a firm, strong flavor. The fruit of this cherry tree variety blossoms and matures in mid- to late-season. Cowiche cherries were bred at Washington State University and released for planting in 2007. Many describe the flavor of a Cowiche cherry to be “intense.”
Early Robin® Cherry
The Early Robin cherry fruits have a skin that is yellow in color with red tints. These plants bloom in the early part of the cherry season. Early Robin cherries are medium in size and heart-shaped, and their flavor is strong and sweet. Their delightful flavor and yellow skin with a red blush make them a pleasant fruit all around.
Index cherries bloom in the early cherry season and offer a sweet, good flavor and firm texture. This type of cherry is medium to large in size, and has a skin that is dark red in color with bright red flesh inside.
The Index cherry is one of the self-fertilizing cherry tree varieties, and makes an excellent cross-pollinator for other early-blooming cherry trees varieties.
Kiona™ cherries are dark red, conical in shape, and have a delicious, sweet taste. This type of cherry is an early bloomer that originated in Washington State. Fun fact: the Kiona cherry was originally named the St. Helens cherry!
Originating in Oregon around 1848, Lambert cherries are bright red in color. These cherries are late bloomers, with a sweet and rich flavor and a wonderfully juicy fruit. The shape of the fruit can either be round or long and heart-shaped. Lambert cherry trees are a hardy variety of cherry tree that flourishes in the Pacific Northwest.
The Lapin cherry is a dark red type of cherry with a lovely, sweet flavor and firm texture. Originating in Canada in 1984, this cherry variety is quite large in size and round in shape, and is resistant to splitting. Lapin cherry tree blossoms are white, and as they tend to almost completely cover the tree, are incredibly attractive to pollinators of all kinds.
The Montmorency type of cherry, also called the Montmorency tart cherry, has a taste that is slightly sour. This sour taste makes the Montmorency cherry ideal for use in making pastries, smoothies, and even trail mixes. You can also find Montmorency cherries in crisps and other dishes. Consuming this cherry variety has been known to help with muscle pain and other types of pain relief, as well.
If you love cherry pie, it’s most likely that the cherries used in the pie filling are Morello cherries. Morello cherries are not dry like some other cherry types, but they have a richness and unique consistency that make them perfect for pies and crisps alike, like cherry pie. These types of cherries are juicy and filled with nutrients, making them a healthier choice to add to your next dessert.
Queen (Royal) Anne Cherry
Royal Anne, or Queen Anne, cherry trees require a temperate climate to flourish, one where temperatures never dip below ten degrees Fahrenheit. They can produce up to 50 pounds of cherries per season!
Queen Anne cherries taste more tart than sweet. With their red and gold color, this type of cherry looks quite similar to Rainier cherries. Royal Anne cherries are usually soaked in sweetener and salt, which makes them perfect for use in both baking and any number of other dishes. With their perfect sweet-and-sour taste, Royal Anne cherries are both delicious and versatile.
Grown near Mount Rainier – hence the name – this type of cherry is sweet and flavorful and appear red and yellow in color. Rainier cherries tend to be more watery than the dark, sweet cherry varieties are, and have a creamy flesh. You can use this type of cherry to make cherry salads, though you can find dozens of other recipes that use Rainier cherries, as well. The Rainier cherry is a truly versatile and tasty type of cherry you’ll fall in love with easily.
Regina™ cherries are dark red in color, and a leaf from a Regina cherry tree will be oblong and dark green in color. Originating in Germany around 1981 and preferring cooler climates, Regina cherries are extremely large with square shoulders. This cherry cultivar appears such a dark red that they appear almost black in color, similar to the “black cherry,” or Chelan cherry. Regina cherries have a sweet but mild flavor and a crunchy texture, and they blossom late in the cherry season.
Santina cherries are dark red and originated in British Columbia, Canada, in the 1970s. A Santina cherry tree is self-fertile; however, its fruit will be plumper and its harvest more plentiful if another sweet cherry tree variety is planted nearby.
The Santina cherry fruit is low in acid, and has a firm texture and sweet taste. Santina cherries are long, slightly flat, heart-shaped cherries with a high luster and a deep-red flesh. They are medium in size.
Selah® cherries bloom in early- to mid-season and are dark red in color. These cherry types are quite large, and the incredibly sweet-tasting Selah cherries originated in Washington state.
Originating in Canada, a Skeena cherry is a late bloomer with a sweet and good flavor and is also extremely large in size. Skeena cherries are also firm and crunchy in texture, and they usually appear either round or kidney-shaped.
The skin of stardust cherries appears yellow with a red blush. Originating in Canada around 1985, stardust cherries are large, flat, and heart-shaped. They have a mild, sweet flavor and quite a firm texture. This cherry cultivar is a late bloomer, and has skin that is almost clear, making the creamy-white flesh easily visible to the naked eye.
Originating in Canada, these bright red cherries have a mild, but extremely sweet flavor and quite a firm texture. Sweetheart cherries are round to heart-shaped, and their medium size includes dark- or bright-red flesh.
Sweetheart cherry tree blossoms are pink and white, backed by glossy green leaves. These cherry trees are self-pollinating, making them an ideal investment for cherry lovers with limited space.
Tieton® Cherries originated in Washington State and are quite large in size. This type of cherry has thick skins and a glossy appearance. A Tieton cherry is mild and sweet in taste, with a firm texture. A Tieton cherry tree blossoms early, and this cherry cultivar’s glossy and incredibly large fruits make them quite visibly impressive and ideal for displays.
Tulare cherries, cousins of the Bing cherry, taste much more tart than their Bing cherry cousins. The Tulare cherry variety usually can’t be relied on to be transported long distances, in part because they often split open during transit. However, this splitting is a testament to the Tulare cherry’s exceptional juiciness.
Originating in the mid-1940s in Canada, the Van cherry has a fantastically sweet flavor and a firm texture. This cherry type ripens in the mid-season. Van cherries are dark red in color and medium in size, with a shape that is round or heart-shaped. Fresh Van cherries are a lovely snack, and these fruits are also frequently used in jams, jellies, and sauces.
That’s a wrap on our list of the different cherry types by name and variety.