Identification Guide for Cherry Trees


There is a wide range of ornamental and cultivated cherry trees (Prunus spp. ), each with its own unique characteristics. Differentiating between these types, or even distinguishing them from other closely related fruit trees, may be challenging at times. It is possible to differentiate between the several kinds of cherry tree based on the look of the tree’s blooms, leaves, and fruit.

Cherry Tree Flower Characteristics

One of the simplest ways to begin identifying a cherry tree is to look at its bloom arrangement. Cherry trees have two different types of flower arrangements. Their flowers may occur single or in clusters of ten or less blooms coming from a central point on the branches, or they form cylinder-shaped spikes at the extremities of the branches where they cluster in groups of more than ten blooms each.

According to Missouri Botanical Garden, wild cherry, also known as bird cherry and hardy in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is an example of the latter flower arrangement style because its white flowers cluster in groups of two to six blossoms.

According to Missouri Botanical Garden, black cherry (Prunus serotina), which is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9, is an example of the former flower arrangement style. Its white flowers are arranged in spikes of 10 or more blooms, and black cherry is also known as rum cherry, wild rum cherry, and wild cherry. Black cherry is also hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9. The cherry blossoms might be white, pink, or any shade in between.

Cherry Tree Leaves

Even types of cherry tree with identical flower arrangements might have leaves that are easily distinguishable from one another. The leaves of the black cherry are oblong-ovate to lanceolate in shape, and they have serrations along the margins. Rust-colored hairs may be seen on each side of the midrib. These leaves are what differentiate black cherry from cherries that grow in colder climates, which have hairs that are just white along the midrib of their leaves.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Japanese flowering cherry, also known as Prunus serrulata, is a hardy species that can survive in USDA zones 5 through 8. Its leaves are sharply serrated and bristly at the tips, while the undersides are either hairless or downy. Even though some trees that are quite similar to cherry trees have purple foliage, cherry trees have green leaves.

Cherry Fruit Appearance

Cherry tree fruit ranges from brilliant yellows and blushes to dark purple and black colours, depending on the tree variety. Many varieties of cherry are grown only for their decorative value and do not produce any fruit. For example, the fruits of the Japanese blooming cherry are dark brown in colour, ovoid in form, and approximately 10 millimetres long when they occur. However, the fruits of the Japanese flowering cherry do not always appear since this variety is grown primarily for its decorative value.

According to the University of Illinois Extension, the Morello cherry, scientifically known as Prunus cerasus, is more often known as sour cherry. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, has fruits that taste sour and are vivid red in colour, and is frequently planted. Although the fruits are delicious when eaten fresh, they are most often seen in baked goods.

Cherry Tree Lookalikes

The Prunus genus has a lot of trees that have a similar appearance to cherries. The cherry plum is maybe the fruit that is most often mistaken for cherries (Prunus cerasifera). According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, cultivars like “Thundercloud” (Prunus cerasifera “Thundercloud”) have purple leaves and blooms that are pinkish-white. These cultivars are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the almond (Prunus dulcis), which is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9, may also resemble cherry, particularly when its blooms are in bloom and have a pinkish-white appearance. If you think you may have mistaken a tree for a cherry during a certain season because it has flowers, leaves, or fruit, you should examine the tree during other seasons as well.