Cherry trees (Prunus spp.) Range in size from small, weeping forms to towering giants. The size of this tree depends greatly on the species and cultivar. In general, trees that produce sweet or tart cherries are inclined to be the smallest, ornamental cherry trees — which are valued because of their beautiful blossoms — are medium-sized, and wild cherry trees are the largest.
Tart and Sweet Cherry Trees
Prunus cerasus and P. avium are more commonly called tart and sweet cherry trees. In their tallest, they generally grow to approximately 30 feet. Cultivars of P. avium are sometimes grown commercially, but in the wild, the fruits of this tree have a tendency to be too small to be commercially feasible. Cultivars of P. cerasus are responsible for most commercially sold and grown cherries in the United States; “Bing” being the most popular.
Ornamental Cherry Trees
Prunus subhirtella and P. serrulata are ornamental cherry trees needed because of their showy spring blooms. The blooms appear early in spring before the leaves uncurl and range in colour from white to light pink into a showy purplish shade (P. serrulatta “Kwanzan”). Some can also be desirable because of their second show of blossoms in the autumn; P. subhirtella “Autumnalis” is actually the most popular of these. Prunus subhirtella trees range in height from 20 to 40 feet using canopy widths of between 15 and 30 feet. Prunus serrulata trees average between 30 and 40 feet in height.
Wild Cherry Trees
Prunus serotina trees have been valued for their cold hardiness. Several are cultivated in the northern parts of the USA and in Canada. These trees may tower to heights of 80 feet — and they do this fast. The smallest specimens are about 50 feet tall at maturity. The tree creates edible berries, but they’re tiny compared to sweet and tart cherry trees, although birds love them. This tree doesn’t have any cultivars.
Additional Cherry Trees
Many hybrids and cultivars exist, a few of which are grafted onto dwarf rootstock in an effort to limit the size of this tree. The requirement for smaller-sized cherry trees appeared from a growing appetite for home gardeners with limited space to have the ability to harvest cherries. For this reason, most dwarf and semi-dwarf cherry trees are cultivars of P. cerasus or P. avium. The size of these changes, but in general they’re just 15 feet in their tallest using the average height being about 8 feet.