There are over 1,000 cherries in existence today, and this means that you have a cherry type available for everyone’s tastes. The most familiar cherry types include bing, maraschino, black, and rainer. The black stone cherry, chokecherry, north star, and Spanish cherry are all some of the lesser known cherry types available.
A lot of these cherry types come from the subgenus Cerasus, and you’ll find them growing in at least 20 different countries throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This antioxidant-packed fruit grows best when you plant them in temperate climates, and the peak season to harvest them is in the summer months. The seeds do require a little cooler weather to germinate, and this is why they can’t grow in tropical locations. We’re going to outline 31 cherry types for you to consider growing below.
There are many types of cherries available, and you can easily mix and match the ones in your local market to find your new favorite to eat raw or cook. Cherries by Jeremy Wheaton / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
31 Types of Cherries
Generally speaking, you divide cherries into two categories, and they’re either P. cerasus (sour) or P. avium (sweet). You usually eat sweet cherry types raw and plain, and tart or sour cherries are popular in cooking. Both categories come with benefits and drawbacks to them.
1. Acerola Cherry
This cherry type is supposed to have more vitamin C packed in than any other fruit. You can find it growing in the Western Hemisphere, and you may hear people refer to this cherry type as the Barbados cherry or the West Indies cherry. However, it’s not a true cherry. Instead, the fruit resembles a berry more than anything else.
This cherry type has also been recognized as a powerful aid to help with a host of health issues, including things related to the liver, diarrhea, dysentery, fungal infections, coughs, depression, and colds. Additionally, the medical industry has considered introducing the vitamin C content in this cherry in daily supplements.
However, this cherry is very perishable, so it’s a good idea for you to grow your own and freeze them as soon as you harvest them. This is the biggest reason why you’re more likely to find this cherry as a powder, in supplements, capsule, tincture, and chewable form instead of as a whole fruit itself.
2. Attika Cherry
This cherry type is originally from the Czech Republic, and it made its way to the United States. If you decide to grow this cherry tree, it’ll be ready to harvest in the middle or late summer months. They grow very well in planting zones five to seven. You’ll get a very dark red fruit with a sweet taste, and it offers a firm and crunchy texture when you bite into it. The fruits from this cherry type are long, large, and heart-shaped. The fruit is also much more durable, and this makes them perfect to transport across the country.
3. Benton Cherry
The Benton cherry is one of the very few cherry trees that will self-pollinate. This is a very cherry type with a sturdy tree that was first developed at Washington State University. This tree requires that you plant it in a spot that gets full sunlight each day, and it’ll produce a huge amount of blossoms and bear fruit. The cherry fruits on this pick are a gorgeous red shade in a medium or large size. They will bloom much later in the season and offer a very sweet flavor. These cherries are also very firm, and they offer a nice aftertaste that allows you to eat them raw.
4. Balaton Cherry
This cherry type is one that hails from Hungary, and it didn’t get grown in a commercial volume until the 1980s in the United States. You can compare it to the Montmorency cherry, and it has a much darker burgundy color as it matures with a very tangy and sweet taste to it. However, just like the Montmorency cherry, this one is also highly perishable, and it’s very sensitive to damage brought on by colder winter temperatures.
This cherry does have a fairly firm feel to it, and this allows you to harvest them by hand without the stem without any damage. The fruit will develop a special cell layer right at the stem attachment to create an organic seal. So, it won’t hurt the cherries to pull them from the stem when you harvest them.
5. Bing Cherry
Bing and Rainier cherry types are very popular and well-known, and Rainier cherries come from Michigan. Bing cherries are immensely popular today because they have a very pretty heart shape, and they have a very rich taste that is tangy and sweet. The interior of this cherry is firm but juicy, and it got the name from Ah Bing, a Manchurian Chinese Immigrant. Today, they’re very popular across the United States.
This cherry type is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, and boron. Due to the good taste, they can be a fantastic addition to a huge range of desserts, and you can pair them very well with cream, vanilla, cinnamon, marzipan, nutmeg, peaches, and more. Additionally, it’s possible to eat them canned, fresh, or frozen.
6. Black Cherry
As the name suggests, this cherry type is a much darker color. However, it’s actually a very deep blackish-red color than pure black. This cherry is very similar to traditional chokecherries, but they have a much sweeter fruit with a taller profile. You can eat them raw, pop them into a pie for the filling, or you can use them to top ice cream sundaes or eat with yogurt.
7. Chelan Cherry
Originating in Washington, this cherry type got its name from the state’s best-known mountain peak. The fruit you’ll get with this cherry tree is a very dark red color that looks almost black, and this is why many people refer to it as the black cherry. The fruit is round with a classic heart shape, and they’re very resistant to cracking. This means that they’re very visually appealing and have a slightly longer shelf life.
You’ll get a sweet and mild taste with this cherry, and they tend to ripen in the middle of June. So, they’re ready to harvest and they blossom roughly two weeks sooner than Bing cherries. This makes them one of the earliest cherries to harvest out of any cherry types, and they’re made out of roughly 20% sugar. This gives them a very sweet flavor that makes them perfect for going in a host of dishes and desserts.
These cherries are very recognizable, and they have a very sweet taste to them that makes them popular to bake with. Chelan cherries by Frank Fujimoto / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Dark Red Cherry
Most dark cherries are usually very juicy and sweet-tasting. You can eat this cherry type as fresh cherries as soon as you harvest and wash them, or you can add them to any dish to add fruity and sweet notes. A few dark cherries include the Chelan cherry, Attika cherry, Benton cherry, Bing cherry, Skeena cherry, Tieton cherry, Santina cherry, Regina cherry, Cowiche cherry, Kiona cherry,
9. Index Cherry
This cherry type will start to bloom very early in the cherry season, and you’ll get a very good, sweet flavor with them with a very firm texture. The cherry is generally medium to large in size, and it has a very dark red skin with a bright red flesh on the inside. This is another self-pollinating cherry tree, and it makes it a great cross-pollinator for any other early blooming cherry trees that you have in your garden or yard.
10. Lambert Cherry
This cherry type is extremely popular commercially because it doesn’t need perfect conditions to produce a host of fruit, unlike many other types of cherry trees. The cherries you’ll get from this tree are heart-shaped and bright red. They’re very popular throughout North America. They’re sweet, crisp, and very juicy, and this makes them great for baking or eating raw.
11. Lapins Cherry
The Lapins cherry is a cherry type that originates in British Columbia, and it’s a cross between Stella and Van cultivars. This tree is self-pollinating, and it’s an excellent pollen source for other cherry trees you have in your yard. This is widely regarded as being a high-quality cherry type that turns a very deep red when it’s ready to harvest and sweet while it keeps the red color. This is a high versatile cherry type that you can juice, eat raw, dry, cook, or preserve. It works well paired with cheeses, smoked meats, pistachios, dark chocolate, ginger, and more.
12. Maraschino Cherry
This is one of the most popular cherry types in the world, and it’s very popular for use as a garnish for desserts and cocktails. The cherry type gets the name from the process that manufacturers developed to preserve them. They soak sour marasca cherries from the Dalmation Coast in maraschino liqueur. The liqueur gets distilled from the stems, flesh, pits, and leaves of these cherries.
Maraschino cherries have a turbulent existence throughout the United States, and they were taken off the market during Prohibition. In the 1920s, manufacturers developed a new way to preserve these cherry types without using alcohol, and it also stripped out the flavor and color. Later, they were put in sugar syrup with artificial color. You can now find 100% organic Maraschino cherries in specialized food markets, and the color comes from radish or beet juice. The biggest thing that sets these types of cherries apart from others that you’ll find in the supermarket is that it tastes more like candy than fresh fruit.
Due to the high amount of sugar, these cherries are very easy to store in a dark and cool location. When you compare them to fresh cherries, they have a very low nutritional benefit and you should avoid eating them regularly since many brands add artificial colors and flavors.
These cherries are very popular in drinks, and they have a candy-like taste to them due to the extremely high sugar content. Maraschino by Kathleen Franklin / CC BY 2.0
13. Montmorency Cherry
This cherry type falls into the sour category, and they’re popular throughout the midwest portion of the United States. The tart Montmorency cherry has a nice dose of melatonin in it, and this is a natural sleep cycle regulator. It also gets packed with potassium, beta carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. This cherry also has a anthocyanins composition, and this makes it an excellent supporter of cardiovascular and joint function.
14. Morello Cherry
This is another sour cherry type, and you can eat them raw. However, you have to make sure they’re perfectly ripe to be able to handle the sour bite. You’ll typically find them in pies, desserts, and drinks. They are a very dark red cherry that is popular throughout Europe, and the juice is very popular in cocktails. If you love to eat cherry pie, this is most likely the type of cherry inside them.
These cherries aren’t dry like other cherries are, and they have a richness paired with a very unique consistency that make them perfect for crisps and pies. They’re also much juicier, and they come packed with nutrients that make them an excellent addition to a range of desserts.
15. Napoleon Cherry
This is a yellow-skinned cherry type that will get ripe in the early December weeks, and you get a very tangy and sweet taste that is impossible to replicate with other cherries. It originates in Germany, and it’s not a self-pollinating type of cherry. These cherries are great for eating raw.
16. Queen (Royal) Anne Cherry
This cherry type has several names, and you may hear people call it Royal Anne, Royal Ann, Napoleon, or Queen Anne. You’ll get a light pink to yellow skinned cherry that gets ripe in early December each year, and it has a tangy and sweet taste. It has origins in Germany, and it’s not a cherry tree that will self-pollinate. They’re great for eating raw.
They are a fleshy and firm cherry, and it’s common to get them in a can. You can consider them to be pie cherries because they have a huge popularity for use in desserts, as well as sauces and jams.
17. Rainier Cherry
This is a special cherry type that originates from Washington State University, and it’s been around since 1952. Harold Fogel created this cherry type of crossing the Bing and Van cultivars. It’s a low-acid cherry type that has a medium orangish-yellow to creamy yellow color, and it has a caramel-like, sweet taste. A lot of people prefer to eat them fresh, but they can make a nice addition to summer desserts.
The name for this cherry comes from Mount Rainier, and it’s the tallest mountain in the state at just over 14,000-feet. Also, this is the only cherry that has a holiday of its very own, and you can celebrate it on July 11th each year, and this is the perfect time to harvest the first crop. Most of these trees require two pollinators to create fruit, and you’ll generally find them planted between sweet, dark cherry trees to give them an alternative pollen source.
18. Red Cherry
When most people draw or imagine cherries, they think of one with red coloring. A few red cherries include the Montmorency cherry, Lambert cherry, and the Morella cherry. A lot of these cherry types are sour or tart when you try them, and this makes them great to add into baked goods or desserts. The more tart varieties usually get pressed for cherry juice or dried to use for cooking.
19. Regina Cherry
Regina cherry types are also very dark red, and the leaves on this tree will be dark green with an oblong shape. They originated in Germany around 1981, and the trees prefer to grow in cooler climates in shaded gardens. They’re a very large cherry with square shoulders. The cultivar is so dark red that it looks almost black in color, very similar to the Chelan cherry. You get a mild but sweet flavor with a crunchy texture, and they blossom very late in the season.
20. Santia Cherry
This cherry type originated in the 1970s in Canada in British Columbia, and they’ve very dark red in color. This tree is self-fertile, but you will get more cherries and have plumper fruit if you have another sweet cherry tree variety planted by it. This fruit has a very low acid content, and it comes with a sweet taste and a firm texture. These cherry types are slightly flat, long, and heart-shaped, and they have a deep red coloring with a high luster. Finally, they get a medium size.
21. Skeena Cherry
This cherry type is relatively new, and it originated in 2000 in Canada. Originally, it was bred for commercial purposes. You get a bigger than average stone with it, the fruits split easily, and it’s much more acidic. This isn’t a hardy cultivar, and they’re much more prone to disease like brown rot. It’s an uncommon cherry, but it produces dark red fruit that is slightly larger in size. The more acidic flavor does well in different recipes.
22. Sour Cherry
Sour cherry is a very popular type of candy, and it’s a cherry type too. As we touched on, tart or sour cherries are the main types that companies press to make cherry juice. They also work well dried to use in cooking. A few types of sour cherries include the Montmorency tart cherry and the Morello cherry. However, the Montmorency cherry is the more popular variety of the two.
23. Stardust Cherry
The skin on this cherry type is yellow with a very faint red blush. It originated in 1985 in Canada, and they’re flat, large and have the iconic heart shape. They have a sweet, mild flavor with a very firm texture. It’s a late bloomer in the season, and the skin almost looks clear. This makes the creamy white flesh color visible when you look at it.
24. Stella Cherry
This is another cherry type that came from Canada, and it’s a hybrid of the Lambert cherry and from a self-fertile seedling that comes from England. This type of cherry was the first cultivar to self-pollinate, so they don’t need a second cherry tree close by to blossom and bear fruit. The cherries also ripen very early in the season, and they’ll give you a rich flavor with a slightly larger look and a dark red coloring.
This is a slightly larger cherry that is actually a hybrid of two cultivars, and it has a slightly tart but sweet taste to it. Stella Cherries by sand_and_sky / CC BY-SA 2.0
25. Sweet Cherry
We touched on the fact that most of the darker red cherries usually have a very sweet flavor to them, and a few of the most popular varieties include the Benton cherry, Bing cherry, and the Chelan cherry. Also, the Rainier cherry is another sweet cherry cultivar, and the stardust cherry is too. Both cherries have a yellow color to them with a red or pink blush. The red blush indicates that they’re sweet to eat, and they’re pretty to look at.
26. Sweetheart Cherry
The sweetheart cherry type originated in Canada, and it’s a very bright red cherry with a very sweet but mild flavor and a firm texture. They can have the traditional heart shape or be round, and the medium size has bright red or dark red flesh. The blossoms on this flowering tree are white and pink, and they have glossy green leaves. The trees are self-pollinating, so they’re great for people with smaller yards.
27. Tieton Cherry
This is a very aesthetically pleasing cherry type that is plump, large, and has a mahogany finish with a high gloss. This cherry will ripen right around the end of May early in the season, and you get a very mild sweet taste. It has a vigorous growth habit to it, but you won’t get a huge amount of fruit. It’s recommended that you plant it with a few types of cherry tree cultivars to boost the yield. You’ll find this cherry in most grocery stores because of their glossiness, large size, and sweet flavor that make them very enticing.
28. Tulare Cherry
This cherry type is a very close cousin to the Bing cultivar, and the fruit will develop a very small point on it when it’s ripe. You can get them in a darker to bright red coloring, and they have a very firm texture to them. You’ll get a tart and sweet flavor to them, and they’re an excellent source of vitamins C and A. It’s also a good option for anthocyanins.
29. Utah Giant Cherry
Coming from the Bing cherry, this cherry type originated in Utah, as you may have guessed by the name. It came to market in 1981, and it produced a much bigger cherry than was on the market at the time. The pulp and the fruit are a deep red color with a very sweet taste. It’s considered to be one of the best sweet cherries in Utah. It does have fewer nutrients than you’d get with sour cherries, but they make a nice treat.
30. Van Cherry
This is another cherry type that was originally from Canada in the 1940s, and it has a very firm texture with a sweet flavor. It’ll be ripe and ready to harvest mid-season. You’ll get medium-sized fruit with a darker red coloring, and the fruit can be heart-shaped or rounded. Fresh cherries are a great snack, and it’s common to see them used in sauces, jellies, and jams.
31. Yellow Cherry
The final cherry type on the list is the yellow cherry, and two common ones include the stardust cherry and the Rainier cherry. Both of these cherries are very sweet, and they have a rosy or pink blush on the skin. The Early Robin cherry is another yellow variety. However, since they have such a light coloring, it’s very easy to see the bruising on the fruit. This is great for anyone who buys them as it helps you pick out healthier fruit that will last longer.
Cherry Types – Frequently Asked Questions
Cherries by Chris and Jenni / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Since there are so many cherry types available, it’s common to have questions about them. We’ve picked out a few common ones for you and answered them below.
1. What is a cherry?
Cherries are very small fruits that grow on stalks. The fruits tend to grow on the Prunus plants, and it’s a drupe. This means that it has a stone or pit. Cherries are tart and sweet, and they’re a very nutritious fruit that has dozens of vitamins and antioxidants.
2. How many types of cherries exist?
There is no official count that outlines how many cherry types officially exist, but there are currently over 1,000 variants in the United States. Each variant has slightly different taste profiles from sweet to tart, the time it takes the tree to bear fruit, and the color.
3. What cherry types are the sweetest?
Bing cherries are some of the most popular and sweetest you can purchase. They’re great for eating raw because they have a very sweet, rich flavor. However, you can use them in baking too since they’re so versatile. Maraschino cherries are also very sweet with a candy-like flavor due to how they’re made.
We’ve outlined 31 cherry types that are great for cooking, eating, or both. You can mix and match the ones you purchase and see which ones work the best for your recipes or eating raw. As a bonus, they’re a very healthy fruit that offers a host of health benefits if you eat them regularly.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.