Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cherry, the fruit of the sub-genus Cerasus of the genus Primus, a group of drupaceous trees. Cerasus is distinguished by leaves folded in halves in the bud, and a globular fruit with a polished surface and a smooth, roundish stone. Many species grow to a large size, and produce valuable wood for cabinetmakers and musical-instrument makers; the bark is astringent, and there are traces of prussic acid in the leaves as well as in the kernels. Branches of C. Mahaleb are made into pipe-stems in Austria, and the bark of C. virginiana is a febrifuge. A gum exudes from the trees, which is used by hatters. There are three British species - C. Padus, the bird-cherry, or hagberry of Scotland, with flowers in racemes; C. avium, the gean, a small tree with few or no suckers, flowers in umbels, and the flesh of the fruit adherent to the stone; and C. vulgaris, the dwarf cherry, a shrub with suckers, flowers in umbels, and a readily separable stone. The two latter are probably the originals of all the cultivated varieties. Some new cultivated varieties seem to have been introduced into Italy by Lucullus after his defeat of Mithridates, 68 B.C., and the Kentish cherry or cerise de Montmorency and the Bigarrean or Spanish cherry seem to have been brought to England from Flanders by Richard Haines, printer to Henry VIII. The Kentish are chiefly used for pies; the Morella, a bitter variety, for preserving in brandy, and the May Duke as a dessert fruit. The German Kirschwasser, the Italian Maraschino and the Ratafia of Grenoble are liqueurs distilled from the pulp, kernels, and leaves of cherries, mixed with other ingredients.