BOTANICAL NAME: Prunus spp. of the family Rosaceae

Prunus is a genus of 120 to 400 species that contain fruitwoods like cherry, plum and almond. The species are native to North America, Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean region. All species look alike microscopically. The word prunus is the classical Latin name for the cherry tree.

American black cherry is Prunus serotina
European Cherry is Prunus avium

COMMON NAMES: American cherry, capulin, black cherry, black wild cherry, cabinet cherry, chisos wild cherry, capollin, capuli, capulin, cerezo, detze, Edwards Plateau cherry, escarpment cherry, ghoto, gila chokecherry, mountain black cherry, muji, plum, rum cherry, southwest choke cherry, southwestern chokecherry, tnunday, wild black cherry, wild cherry, whisky cherry, New England mahogany, xeugua

European cherry is also known as cerisier, English cherry, gean, mazzard, mazzard, merisier, meurisier, and kers

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: The sapwood may be light yellow or white or pinkish and is a fairly narrow band around the heartwood. The heartwood is salmon pink to brownish, sometimes with a greenish tinge, darkening upon exposure to a deep reddish brown with a golden luster. Cherry's color ages extremely well, deepening and taking on a rich patina with age, particularly with exposure to sunlight. Relatively rare pieces will have red heartwood.

European cherry sometimes exhibits greater color contrast than American black cherry

GRAIN: usually straight but also found as curly and sometimes "ropey". When quartersawn, it will sometimes exhibit small, tight, ray flakes that are very attractive. Brown-coloured pith flecks, and small gum pockets are common. Cherry's grain is usually more subdued than some other hardwoods.

TEXTURE: close, firm, and uniform with a rich, satiny luster

PROPERTIES / WORKABILITY: Moderately hard and heavy, strong, stiff, capable of a smooth surface, works easily with hand and power tools, carves and turns very nicely with a clean sharp edge. Holds screws and nails well, glues and stains easily, and polishes to an excellent finish that naturally darkens with age. Gum pockets can cause some problems in glueing and finishing.

DURABILITY: heartwood has good decay resistance

FINISH: ages to a rich natural luster

STABILITY: very stable; little movement in service

BENDING: steam-bends very well

ODOR: mild, aromatic scent, but no characteristic taste

SOURCES: cherry is found in the eastern half of the North American continent, from the plains of the United States to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes and up into Canada, down to the Gulf of Mexico (generally it occurs only in high elevations in Mexico). "European" cherry occurs in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia and "American black cherry" sometimes occurs in Europe.

USES: cabinetry, interior furniture, chests, quality joinery, paneling, architectural woodwork, caskets, woodenware, toys, professional and scientific instruments, novelties, musical instruments, gun stocks, bobbins, canoes, tobacco pipes, printing and engraving blocks, skis, tool handles, kitchen ware, pattern making, ship framing, planking, and ship interiors

TREE: reaches a height of 100 ft (30 m), with a diameter of 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m). It is shrubby under poor growth conditions and at the northern limit of its range. It does best on the rich, moist soil of the Appalachians.

WEIGHT: moderate --- avg 40 to 45 pounds per square foot

DRYING: generally will dry relatively free from checking and warping but the tangential shrinkage can be twice the radial shrinkage making warping a problem if drying is hurried.

AVAILABILITY: very common, readily available as lumber, turning stock and veneer

COST: moderate; $5/BF and up for good quality lumber --- curly and other select pieces can run much higher

web quotes:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One of the most highly prized cabinet woods in North America

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

a clean wood which takes a very lustrous finish but which can be boring unless properly treated (and as with many woods, the best treatment can depend on the piece). I've seen pictures of furniture and decorative items made from cherry and they have been really attractive but my own experience in buying and working cherry has been less successful.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Like all fruit trees, cherry belongs to the rose family and was used as early as 400 B.C. by the Greeks and Romans for furniture making. American Colonists used the cherry tree for its fruit, medicinal properties and home furnishings. They mixed cherry juice with rum to create Cherry Bounce, a bitter but highly favored cordial. The bark was used in the production of drugs to treat bronchitis, and cherry stalks were used to make tonics. Cherry helped define American traditional design because Colonial cabinetmakers recognized its superior woodworking qualities.