Sweet Cherry
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Sweet Cherry
D Introduced Photo: Anil Thakur
Common name: Sweet Cherry, Wild Cherry
Botanical name: Prunus avium    Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Synonyms: Cerasus avium, Prunus juliana, Prunus varia

Sweet Cherry is a deciduous tree growing to 15-32 m tall, with a trunk up to 5 ft in diameter. Young trees show strong apical dominance with a straight trunk and symmetrical conical crown, becoming rounded to irregular on old trees. The bark is smooth purplish-brown with prominent horizontal grey-brown lenticels on young trees, becoming thick dark blackish-brown and fissured on old trees. The leaves are alternate, simple ovoid-pointed, 7-14 cm long and 4-7 cm broad, hairless matt or somewhat shiny green above, variably finely downy beneath, with a sawtoothed margin and a tapering tip, with a green or reddish leaf-stalk 2-3.5 cm long bearing two to five small red glands. The tip of each sawtoothedd edge of the leaves also bear small red glands. Flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the new leaves, borne in corymbs of two to six together, each flower pendent on a 2-5 cm flower-cluster-stalk, 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, with five pure white petals, yellowish stamens, and a superior ovary; they are hermaphroditic, and pollinated by bees. The ovary contains two ovules, only one of which becomes the seed. The fruit is a drupe 1-2 cm in diameter, bright red to dark purple when mature in midsummer. The fruit are readily eaten by numerous kinds of birds and mammals. Some rodents, and a few birds also crack open the stones to eat the kernel inside. Sweet Cherry is native to Europe to West Asia till Afghanistan.

Identification credit: Anil Thakur Photographed in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh & Kashmir.

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