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A cherry is a drupe, a fleshy fruit that has a single hard stone enclosing a seed. It belongs to the family Rosaceae and genus Prunus, along with almonds, peaches, plums, and apricots. Sweet and tart cherries are different species, avium and cerasus respectively.

Larger Washington, D.C. Tidal Basin cherry trees image

In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in the West. Washington and California supply mainly dark, sweet Bing cherries intended for fresh use, while Oregon and Michigan provide light-colored Royal Ann (Napoleon) cherries for the maraschino cherry process. Most tart cherries are grown in four states bordering the Great Lakes -- Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Some flowering cherry trees (known as 'ornamental cherries') do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their blossom and their decorative value.

Larger cherry tree blossoms image

Cherries have a very short fruiting season. In Australia, they are usually at their peak around Christmas time, and in the UK they are generally ready for picking in early summer. (Formation of the cherry fruit - beginning of may (France))

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