When I was a little girl, my mother and grandmother would hang cherry earringsover my ears - every pair of cherries that had their stems joined together. That was the first thing we did with the cherries after we brought them home from the market. It was a ritual which we'd always follow before eating the fruit. We had such fun wearing the cherry earrings and laughing at ourselves! As a child, I didn't see many cherries growing on trees, as I was living in Bucharest. My friends and I had other fruit trees to climb in and steal the fruits--mostly cherry plums, green or red, and red peaches.
I've come to know what a cherry tree looks like from my botany book and from other people's gardens, where cherry trees were growing. The cherry tree, or Prunus avium in Latin, is commonly called sweet cherry or wild cherry, and it's native to Europe and Western Turkey, northwestern Africa and western Asia. Cherry is included in the Prunus genus, Rosaceae family, which also includes nectarines, peaches, almonds, apricots and plums. Their fruits are called stone fruits because of their single hard-coated seed, like a stone. The Prunus genus has been divided recently in six subgenera: subgenus Amygdalus (peaches and almonds), subgenus Prunus (plums and apricots), subgenus Cerasus (cherries), subgenus Lythocerasus (sand cherry), subgenus Padus (bird cherries), subgenus Laurocerasus (cherry laurel). Cherry leaves are simple, lanceolate, with nectaries on leaf stalk. Flowers are growing in small corymbs of several together and they are white, with five petals, five sepals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a fleshy drupe with a large, round pit. Sour cherry, Prunus cerasus, has not only the fruit different from the sweet cherry, but also the flowers and leaves are different. Sweet cherry has longer and lighter green leaves; sour cherry has dark green, smaller leaves. The sweet cherry's flower petals are spaced, while the sour cherry's are closer. The sour cherry's flowers have shorter pedicel and have less flowers in the corymbs. The sour cherry tree grows smaller than the sweet cherry tree.
There was a huge cherry tree in our neighborhood, growing in a beautiful garden, even higher than the house. I was a teenager by the time the cherry tree had grown big enough for me to notice it and I enjoyed watching its blooms in spring, while passing by their house. Days later the blooms were gone and, out of nowhere, there were the cherries, gathered in lots of red corymbs, all over the tree. Later I saw they cut down the tree and I was so sad. However, by watching that tree I learned how to recognize a cherry tree by its leaves and flowers. Same with the other black cherry and sour cherry trees I've seen in my old neighborhood. Now, after many years, I have a cherry tree and a sour cherry tree of my own, in my garden. Actually, since I've planted two more this spring, now I have four cherry trees. They say the cherry trees aren't self-pollenizing and each cultivar needs a special cultivar to pollenize it. That's why I planted two more cherry trees so they can pollenize each other. My cherry trees are Stella and Germersdorf cultivars; Gemersdorf gets pollenized by Stella. Yet, my first cherry tree has bloomed and fruited without being pollenized by the Stella I just planted. Many fruits have fallen, but I hope some will get to rippen.
I've been very patient with my cherry tree, which looked like a stick when I planted it in my garden. The sour cherry was bigger, so it fruited almost every year, although only a few fruits ripened. This year I've learned how to prune my fruit trees and they were all full of blooms and fruits. Could it be this year that I could wear cherry earrings from my garden? It seems so!