Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus)

General info about Fruit

The Sour Cherry or Morello Cherry, (Prunus cerasus) is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries), native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to the Wild Cherry (P. avium), also known as sweet cherry, but has a fruit which is more acidic, and so is useful primarily for culinary purposes.
The tree is smaller than the Wild Cherry, growing up to 4-10 m tall, and
has twiggy branches, whilst the crimson to black fruit is borne on shorter stalks.

How to choose a ripe and fresh Fruit

Popular varieties include the Montmorency, Morello, and Early Richmond. Montmorency is the most popular of the sour cherry varieties the U.S. and Canada providing 95% or more of the sour cherries on the market. They are harvested in July and are light to dark red.

Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit

Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum; Oil; Tea.
Fruit - raw or cooked. Pleasantly acid, the fruit can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc or dried for later use. The fruit is about 18mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. When refined it is used as a salad oil. The leaves are used as a tea substitute. A gum obtained from the trunk is used for chewing.

Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Bitter; Febrifuge; Nervine; Salve.
The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs and colds. The root bark has been used as a wash for old sores and ulcers. The seed is nervine. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses

Adhesive; Dye; Gum; Hedge; Oil; Wood.
An edible drying oil obtained from the seed is also used in cosmetics. The gum obtained from the stem is also used as an adhesive. Plants can be grown as a hedge, succeeding in fairly exposed positions. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus


Several, including:
Prunus apetala
Prunus avium (Wild/Sweet Cherry)
Prunus campanulata
Prunus canescens
Prunus cerasus (Sour Cherry)
Prunus concinna
Prunus conradinae
Prunus dielsiana
Prunus emarginata (Bitter Cherry)
Prunus fruticosa
Prunus incisa
Prunus litigiosa
Prunus mahaleb (Saint Lucie Cherry)
Prunus maximowiczii
Prunus nipponica
Prunus pensylvanica (Pin Cherry)
Prunus pilosiuscula
Prunus rufa
Prunus sargentii
Prunus serotina (Black Cherry)
Prunus serrula
Prunus serrulata (Japanese Cherry)
Prunus speciosa
Prunus subhirtella
Prunus tomentosa
Prunus x yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry)

Recipes made mainly with this Fruit

Freezing Cherries:
Freeze cherries as soon as possible after picking to ensure a high quality product. To freeze: Stem and sort cherries. Wash in cold water. Drain and pit. Pack into containers in one of the following ways:
With sugar: 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water; mix to dissolve.
In syrup: Bring 5 cups sugar and 4 cups water to a rolling boil. Chill syrup before using to freeze cherries.
Plain: Place in freezer quality plastic bags.