More than 1,000 types of cherry trees grow in North America with 10 varieties produced commercially. While cherries come in a range of colors from pale to deep red, yellow and black, they all fall into two species consisting of sweet or sour cherries. Many people prefer to cook sour cherries, but most sweet cherries may be eaten fresh right off the tree. Sweet cherries require another cherry tree to pollinate with in order to set fruit. Sour cherry trees do not require another tree with which to pollinate because they're self-fertile.
Wild Black Cherry
Several types of wild cherry grow in North America including the wild black cherry. Black cherry remains highly prized for its beautiful wood harvested from trees growing up to 100 feet in height. The cherries turn red before maturing into a deep purple or black color. The tree grows in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 3 to 9 and offers juicy black fruits that taste best when cooked.
Wild Red Cherry
Wild red cherry trees, also known as pin cherry trees, grow up to 15 feet in height. The trees thrive in the wild when planted near streams and creeks. In August or September, the sour cherries mature, tasting best when made into jellies or jams. Birds and other wildlife find wild red cherries a great food source. The tree thrives in zones 3 to 8.
Chokecherry tree, a small native tree or large bush found all over North America, features small mouth-puckering purple-black fruits that ripen in late August in thick clusters. The fruits work best when made into jam. Birds and wildlife such as bears find chokecherry an important food source. Chokecherry grows well in zones 2 to 6.
One of the most popular sweet cherries, bing cherry trees produce large, sweet fruits that taste delicious fresh from the tree. The deep red to almost black fruit ripens in late June on trees that grow up to 35 feet in height. Bing cherries thrive in zones 5 to 9.
The ultra-sweet maraschino cherry found in cocktails and desserts comes from fruit picked from the Royal Ann cherry tree. Also known as Napoleon cherries, the fruits come in shades of light yellow with a pink blush.The cherry's long stem and pointed fruit shape make it ideal for cocktail cherries. The fruit also tastes juicy and fresh straight off the tree. Royal Ann cherries grow well in zones 5 to 8 and grow up to 14 feet in height.
The large red cherries with yellow flesh ripen early in the summer. The tree thrives in zones 4 to 7, growing up to 30 feet in height, although it may be pruned to keep it more manageable in height.