Excerpt from the Popular Garden Series magabook Orcharding with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc.
The ancestors of today’s domestic cherries originated in the Caucasus Mountains and were carried to Rome in ancient times. There were no cherry trees in Italy until 74 B.C., says Pliny the Elder, but within 120 years cherry trees would “spread as far as Britain.” He also described three varieties of tame sweet cherries, including the Junian cherry that “has a pleasant taste, but only if eaten under its tree, since it is so tender that it cannot stand being transported.”
Domestic cherries didn’t become widespread throughout Europe and Britain until the 15th century. However, by the 17th century, cherries were so popular that, like apples, peaches, plums and pears, cherries crossed the wide Atlantic with our Founding Fathers.