- The two main species of cherry throughout the world are the Prunus avium, or Sweet Cherry (also called wild cherry) and the Prunus cerasus, or Sour Cherry (also called tart cherry).
- Growing on tall trees that range between fifteen and thirty meters tall, both varieties occur broadly across Europe and Asia, and there is no cross-pollination between the two.
- Another well-known sweet cherry is the Royal Ann, which is better known in its preserved, dyed and sweetened form as the maraschino cherry, used to garnish cocktails and desserts. (The name maraschino refers to the marasca cherry and the maraschino liqueur made from it, in which maraschino cherries were originally preserved.)
- Cherries have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits.
- Darker cherries have higher antioxidant and vitamin levels than lighter ones, but Sour Cherries, which are generally bright red rather than a darker red-purple in color, have far higher levels than Sweet.
- They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.
- Cherries also are a rich source of melatonin, a powerful antioxidant known for regulating the body's natural sleep cycle and helping to promote restful sleep.
- Cherries are available from May to August.