Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Origin of sweet cherry (Prunus avium)

The major cherry species grown commercially for their fruit are sweet (Prunus avium L.) and sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.)

The sweet cherry originated in western central temperate Asia and appears to have been introduced rather late into Mediterranean basin 300 BC where it may have been used principally for its wood.

The species name for sweet cherry, avium, refers to birds, the agents largely responsible for the distribution of the seed and therefore the spread of both species.

The sweet cherry apparently was first domesticated in ancient Greece and it was perpetuated by Romans, who consumed it as an essential part of the legionnaire’s diet.

Later, Romans reported the introduction of a single sweet cherry variety to Rome.

This lead to sweet cherry’s spread throughout Europe. Early records describe cherry cultivation during sixteenth century and many old sweet cherry varieties trace back to German origins.

Sweet cherries introduced to America by early English settlers in 1629 and later were introduced to California by Spanish missionaries.

In the 1800s, sweet cherries were moved west by pioneers and fur traders to their major sites of production in Washington, Oregon and California.

In North America, most of the fresh market sweet cherry are produced in Michigan.
Origin of sweet cherry (Prunus avium)