Click HERE to read how Sufi masters use cherries to illustrate a point.
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Ah the fabled cherry--the poetic color of luscious lips, and just as sweet. It started out in West Asia (perhaps the Persia-Armenia region) and in two varietals from which all cultivated cherries are descended: Prunus avium (sweet) and Prunus cerasus (sour).
Sweet cherries had spread to Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean by 300 BCE, for Theophrastus mentions them. And Pliny the Elder (1st century AD) mentions that some 8 varieties of cherries were being cultivated in Italy--and that the Romans were spreading them as far north as Britain. The British, in turn, carried it to the New World in the 17th century (Beyond the huge crops in Michigan, California, Oregon, and Washington, American wild cherries include the chokecherry, the pin cherry, and the wild black cherry. Sour cherries have spread even farther north, and are a speciality of Germany and Scandanavia.
Today it is estimated that some 900 sweet varieties (ranging in color from yellow to black) and some 300 sour varieties are being grown. Most sweet cherries will produce fruit only after they've been cross-pollinated--honey bees usually do the leg work, carrying pollen from a sweet cherry of another variety. Sours are mostly self-fertile. These are the main classes:
Then there's Robert Herrick's poem, "Cherry-ripe" (1648):
Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
And since to look at things in bloom