If you’ve been looking for the perfect cherry tree for your garden, look no further. There are dozens of cherry tree varieties, each with its own distinct needs, benefits, and growing zones.
In this article, we will talk about 21 types of cherry trees, the kind of fruit they produce, and whether they are a good fit for your area. We will also answer some common questions about growing cherries so you have everything you need to get started.
Types of Cherry Trees
Whether you’re planning on growing sweet cherries, sour cherries, or an ornamental variety, here are some top varieties to consider!
1. Benton Cherry
The Benton cherry is an extremely popular sweet cherry variety that is comparable to other popular cultivars like Bing and Lapins. These hardy trees are easy to grow and strongly resistant to disease, making them a perfect choice for home gardeners.
In the spring, the tree produces striking white blossoms. The fruit ripens early and is large, deep red, and delicious eaten fresh.
The Benton cherry is also self-fertile, meaning it produces fruit without any cross-pollination. It thrives in mild climates such as zones 5 through 8. It is easy to understand why this easy-to-grow, delicious fruit is so popular!
2. Bing Cherry
Bing cherries are some of the most famous and widely-grown sweet cherries in the world. They have dark red, almost purple flesh and are larger than average. A hardy, dependable variety, Bing cherries can grow in USDA zones 5 through 9.
This variety is said to be the sweetest of all cherry cultivars. Its popularity seems to back that theory up, as it is the most popular variety for eating fresh. Bing cherries may be too sweet for cooking or baking, as heat further breaks down sugars in the fruit.
3. Blackgold Cherry
The Blackgold cherry is a delicious sweet cherry variety. Its fruit is delicious when eaten fresh, as it is extremely sweet, juicy, and large.
The Blackgold cultivar is fairly hardy, thriving even in places with late frosts and colder temperatures. Part of this is thanks to their later-than-average blooming time, which can be as late as early August.
They thrive in USDA growing zones 4 through 7, making them ideal for northern climates where winter tends to linger. These dependable, hardy fruits are firm and deep red, almost purple in color. They are an excellent cultivar for home gardeners.
4. Black Republican Cherry
The Black Republican cherry’s claim to fame is that it is a parent of the popular Bing variety. But it is a wonderful sweet variety on its own. You’ve probably seen it mixed with yogurt as well as on its own.
This variety is wonderfully hardy, able to withstand both heat and cold. It is prized among gardeners as an excellent pollinator for other sweet cherry varieties. It thrives in USDA zones 5 through 9 and is moderately cold hardy, but should not be planted in extremely cold regions.
These semi-soft, deep red cherries are deliciously sweet with a complex flavor.
5. Carmine Jewel Cherry
The Carmine Jewel cherry is well-named. This dwarf variety produces bright red, gorgeous fruits that are deliciously tart.
This cultivar is highly popular among gardeners, as it is a good producer, moderately cold hardy, and self-pollinating. If you have a small yard, this is the perfect cherry tree for you.
The Carmine Jewel is suited for USDA growing zones 3 through 8, making it a wonderfully versatile and easy-to-grow tree. The tart fruit is ready to be picked around July. Despite its small size, the Carmine Jewel is known for producing a bumper crop of fruit every year.
6. Early Richmond Cherry
The Early Richmond cherry is a popular and delightful sour cherry variety that is perfect for putting in pies, cakes, and other baked goods. This heirloom tree has been around since English settlers brought it to the Americas and has remained popular ever since.
This variety is an early producer, with fruit usually ready to pick in June. It is self-fertile, so you do not have to pair it with a cross-pollinator. It produces breathtaking white blossoms in the spring.
The Early Richmond cherry is moderately cold-hardy and thrives in growing zones 4 through 9. It’s a wonderfully low-maintenance sour cherry variety.
7. Emperor Francis Cherry
The Emperor Francis is a lesser-known heirloom cherry variety that produces striking bright red fruit that verges on orange. It is a beautiful sweet cherry tree that is fairly high-maintenance but can be worth the work.
This early-blooming fruit tree produces delicious cherries in June. Because of its early blooming period, it needs a warmer climate to protect it from late frosts. For this reason, it is best suited for USDA growing zones 5 through 7.
It needs a cross-pollinator of another sweet cherry variety and plenty of water and sun. Good care will provide some of the most delicious and versatile fruit you’ve ever had!
8. Higan Cherry
The Higan cherry tree is an ornamental cherry tree originally from Japan. This striking cultivar provides a beautiful sight throughout the year, producing vibrant pink-white blossoms in the spring, deep green foliage in the summer, and vibrant colors in the autumn.
Though the Higan cherry tree produces fruit, it is not considered edible for humans. However, like the Yoshino cherry tree, it draws many pollinators to the area, including birds, butterflies, and bees.
This tree thrives in mild climates, making it ideal for USDA growing zones 4 through 8. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a beautiful ornamental for their garden.
9. Lambert Cherry
The Lambert cherry is known as a prolific and dependable producer that is as close to foolproof as a fruit tree can get.
This wonderfully versatile sweet cherry variety is widely grown in the commercial market. But it is also a favorite of home gardeners. It is self-fertile, so you can plant it on its own and still expect a good fruit crop every year.
Lambert cherries are large, heart-shaped, and deep red. They are perfect for eating fresh or using in recipes. Though they thrive in zones 5 through 7, they can withstand late frosts and rainy weather.
10. Lapins Cherry
The Lapins cherry is a popular and widely-grown sweet cherry cultivar. Also called Cherokee cherries, these delicious fruits are large, firm, and extra juicy.
Perhaps even more striking, however, is the variety’s beautiful foliage. In addition to its dependent fruit production, the Lapins cherry tree is a stunning ornamental that looks lovely in any garden.
With bright blossoms in the spring, the tree attracts many pollinators. In the autumn, it will turn vibrantly orange. The fruit grows late and is resistant to splitting, which means a more dependable harvest. The Lapins cherry thrives in zones 5 through 8.
11. Meteor Sour Cherry
The Meteor Sour cherry is a unique sour cherry cultivar that has been a staple in North America for more than a century. This tart fruit is excellent for baking, providing just the right balance of sweetness and acidity in baked goods.
Meteor Sour cherry trees are wonderful additions to any garden. In addition to producing a bumper crop every year, they are lovely ornamentals in any season. In the spring, they bloom with gorgeous white flowers. Fall brings vibrant harvest colors.
This variety was bred to be disease resistant and extremely cold hardy. It does well in growing zones 4 through 8.
12. Montmorency Cherry
The Montmorency cherry is a delicious and beautiful sour cherry variety that blooms beautifully and provides a large crop every year.
The Montmorency is related to the Meteor Sour cherry, making them ideal cross-pollinators. Planting these two trees side by side in your yard will produce an excellent crop of both cherry varieties. However, the Montmorency cherry is self-fertile and does not need a pollinator!
Montmorency cherries have bright red skin and yellow flesh. They are a firm, crisp cherry that is deliciously acidic, making them perfect for cooking. They thrive in cooler regions and are ideal for zones 4 through 7.
13. Nanking Cherry
The Nanking cherry is a smaller cherry variety that is nevertheless a favorite of many gardeners. They are unique among cherry cultivars in that, rather than growing as a full tree, they are small enough to classify as a shrub.
That doesn’t stop this cherry variety from producing a good crop of fruit every year. Nanking cherries are much smaller than most cherries but still delicious. This is a great plant for a smaller yard or garden.
Nanking cherries are sour and juicy, making them perfect for jam and baked goods. They thrive in USDA growing zones 3 through 7.
14. North Star Cherry
The North Star cherry is a variety that was bred to be highly disease resistant and cold hardy, making it a wonderfully dependable plant. Despite its small size, it is known for producing a large crop of fruit every year.
This variety does well in cool to moderate climates, thriving in USDA growing zones 4 through 8. It is self-fertile and requires only basic maintenance to ensure a good yield. No wonder it has hardly lost popularity!
The flavor is highly unique, with a tart start and a sweet finish. Because of this, they are perfect for both cooking and eating fresh.
15. Rainier Cherry
The Rainier cherry is one of the most stunning cherry varieties you will ever see. That is all thanks to its unique color, which is somewhere between bright yellow and bright orange with a vermilion blush.
This variety is sweet and juicy, with larger-than-average fruit. Both the fruit and the tree are striking, with the latter producing white blossoms every spring. Thanks to this, they remain extremely popular.
Rainier cherries need a cross-pollinator and pair well with many other sweet cherry cultivars. They do best in mild to warmer climates, thriving in USDA growing zones 5 through 8.
16. Regina Cherry
The Regina cherry is a beautiful, classic sweet cherry variety that produces deep red fruit. When the fruit is young, it is bright red and slightly more acidic, deepening in color and becoming sweeter as it ages.
This variety is resistant to cracking and many diseases, making it a wonderful plant for a home gardener. Though it requires another sweet cherry to cross-pollinate and improve the size of the crop, the Regina cherry is hardy and requires only basic care.
This variety prefers mild to warmer climates, doing best in USDA growing zones 5 through 8.
17. Stella Cherry
The Stella cherry is a heavy-bearing sweet cherry variety that is known for growing extraordinarily fast — so fast, in fact, that you can depend on a crop in the tree’s first year!
These cherries are dark red and bred to resist cracking, making them a wonderfully dependable cultivar. They grow well in USDA growing zones 5 through 9, making them a versatile plant that can handle a variety of climates, but prefers to be slightly warmer.
The Stella cherry is an adaptable cherry variety that produces a large crop of deliciously sweet fruit. It’s excellent for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.
18. Sunburst Cherry
The Sunburst cherry is a delicious sweet cherry variety that produces large, juicy fruit. Though they are not widely grown for commercial sale in North America, they are a popular variety in Australia and the United Kingdom.
If you want to plant one of your own, Sunburst cherry trees thrive in USDA zones 4 through 8. They are a late-blooming variety, making them moderately resistant to late freezes. They usually produce fruit in late July.
Sunburst cherries are self-pollinating, making them a wonderfully easy-to-grow cultivar. If you want a delicious, reliable cherry tree in your garden, this might be the type for you.
19. Tulare Cherry
The Tulare cherry is related to the Bing cherry. Like its cousin, this cultivar produces large, sweet fruit that is delicious eaten right off the tree. But it is particularly well-suited to growing in the American South, since it thrives in hot, humid climates.
The Tulare cherry ripens early into bright red fruit with a deep pink blush. They are usually ready between late May and mid June, making them one of the earliest cherry varieties.
They thrive in USDA zones 5 through 8, making them perfect for growing in places with mild winters and hot, humid summers.
20. Whitegold Cherry
The Whitegold cherry is a beautiful variety that stands out because of its unusual color. It gets its name from its yellow skin and flesh that is touched with a red blush. This color makes it a stunning sight as it blooms!
This lovely cultivar is hardy and resistant to many diseases. It thrives in warmer climates, such as growing zones 5 through 7. It is also self-pollinating, making it a wonderfully low-maintenance tree for your garden.
Whitegold cherries are ready to pick in mid-June. They have a very bright, sweet flavor that is unlike any other cherry you’ve tried.
21. Yoshino Cherry
The Yoshino cherry is also called a Japanese Flowering cherry thanks to its classic white-pink blossoms. Although the fruit is considered too bitter for humans to eat, birds and butterflies flock to this fragrant tree.
For gardeners, the Yoshino cherry is seen as an ornamental, and it’s no wonder why. Its fragrant, heavy blossoms are known throughout the world. It thrives in USDA zones 5 through 8, making it best suited to temperate climates that are neither extremely hot nor extremely cold.
Though the fruit isn’t palatable for humans, this tree is beautiful and can attract important pollinators to your yard.
Are all types of cherries edible?
Not all types of cherries are edible. Some, for example, are very bitter, like the Yoshino cherry. These might be classified as technically edible but certainly unpalatable for humans. However, these types of cherry trees often have other uses, such as drawing pollinators to the area or fertilizing other cherry cultivars. Some may also simply be ornamental.
What is the difference between a sour cherry and a sweet cherry?
The difference between sour and sweet cherries lies in the amount of natural sugars vs. acids they contain. Sweet cherries have higher concentrations of sugar and are usually better suited for eating fresh. Sour cherries (also called tart cherries) have a brighter taste and are a great choice for baking, since sugars break down during cooking and result in a nice combination of sweetness and tartness.
Are there poisonous cherry trees?
Technically, almost every cherry variety is poisonous. Though the fruit may be safe to eat, cherry pits contain compounds that convert to natural cyanide in the digestive tract. If you have children or animals, make sure they never swallow cherry pits.
Make a Cherry Tree Part of Your Garden!
With dozens of cherry tree varieties available for home gardeners, you are bound to find the perfect one for your yard.
For even more information about cherries, visit our Cherry Trees hub page. You’ll find great resources for growing healthy trees that produce the best fruit, tree care guides, as well as tasty recipes for using cherries.