Members of the Rosacea family, cherry trees fall into two categories: flowering or fruit-bearing. The flowering types serve in ornamental applications. The most celebrated varieties are found on the national mall in Washington D.C.--one of the largest collections outside their native Japan. The trees were donated in the name of the city of Tokyo in 1912. The National Mall Trust commemorates the gift annually during the National Cherry Festival, according to the National Park Service. In contrast, fruit bearing trees are native to America, Asia and Europe, and they primarily serve as commercial or garden crops.
Weeping cherry, also called the Weeping Higan Cherry, yields an abundance of cascading blooms in spring. The flowers form single or double blooms in colors that range from dark pink to white. The glossy green leaves develop a yellow color in fall. This kind of cherry tree is developed from a graft. A hardy root stock is trained to a straight trunk and the weeping branches are grafted to the trunk 4 to 6 inches above the ground. Weeping cherry grows 20 to 30 feet tall and spreads 15 to 25 feet wide.
The Kanzan, also known as Kwanzan or Sekiyama, takes its name from a Japanese word that means "bordering mountain," according to the Oregon State University Extension. Kanzan is the most popular flowering cherry tree in Western countries because of its large, showy habit. Kanzan reaches heights of 20 feet or more and its upright branches give way to a more round shape with age. The flowers produce deep pink, double blooms. The leaves have a bronze shimmer in spring that darkens in fall. Kanzan is also hardy, capable of surviving colder temperatures.
The Bing cherry tree achieves economic importance as a commercial fruit and landscape tree. Bing produces large, sweet cherries that can be eaten right from the tree or taken to market. The flesh appears dark red or maroon and feels firm when ripe. Like most sweet cultivars, the Bing requires cross-pollination; it grows best near compatible cultivars that bloom around the same time, such as the Heidelfingen and Schmidt. Bing also has an upright growth habit, so pruning may be necessary to prevent the tree from becoming too tall.
Introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1950, the Northstar makes an ideal dwarf-sized garden tree. This variety reaches 8 to 10 feet in height and yields mahogany colored fruit. Since the juice tastes tart, the fruit is more suitable for cooking, baking or brining (canning) than direct consumption. Like most tart cherry cultivars, Northstar self-pollinates; it produces fruit without the help of other nearby cherry trees. Northstar has a reputation for being more cold hardy than other varieties.