There are two main types of cherry in the United States: Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus, or sour cherry and sweet cherry, respectively. A number of other fruiting trees are closely related to the cherries, all of the genus Prunus. Cherries and their relatives are usually not grown from seed, but from grafts onto rootstock, the most common method for propagating fruit trees. Height and width are dependent on the rootstock used and vary from 6 to 40 feet in height.
Sour cherry and sweet cherry are both grown mainly for fruit with some cultivars as flowering trees. Sweet and sour cherries flower in early spring with white flowers that soon litter the ground like new-fallen snow. Cherries require specific cultivars for cross-pollination and are self-sterile. They may be grown in USDA zones 4 to 9 depending on variety.
Sold mainly as a fruiting tree, apricot is also grown as rootstock for grafting other Prunus trees including cherry, plum, cherry plum, almond, peach and nectarine. Freestone apricots have fruit that does not stick to the seed inside. Grow apricots in USDA zones 4 to 9.
The plum, like cherry, is native to the United States and still grows wild here. Unlike cherries and most other Prunus fruit species, native plums may be grown from seed. Some varieties are freestone, while others are not. The plum grows as far north as USDA zone 3 and south to USDA zone 8.
More often grown as a small flowering tree, the cherry plum's fruit is sweet and good for jams and jellies. Very often called a purple plum, the cherry plum has dark purple foliage and berries and pink flowers. Mainly an ornamental, the cherry plum grows well in USDA zones 4 to 9.
Almonds flower earlier than any other Prunus tree, as early as February in some areas. The fruit looks similar to a young peach when it is ripe. Native to the Middle East, almonds are now grown in California more so than anywhere else in the world. The trees are small, but spread 10 to 15 feet in width. Less hardy than other Prunus, almonds do well in USDA zones 6 to 9.
Peach and Nectarine
Peaches and nectarines are just about the same fruit, with very little difference. Nectarines lack the fuzz on the skin and have a deeper red blush. Peaches are sometimes deliberately crossed with almonds to produce rootstock. Considered the "Queen" of fruits here in the United States, peaches and nectarines grow well in USDA Zones 4 to 9.