Ripe, sensuous, irresistible: the cherry tree and its stunning blossoms conjure up many literal, metaphorical and visceral sensations. We enjoy cherry picking, a cherry on top, and even, on occasion, to lose one's cherry. Cherries have been consumed since prehistoric times, reaching great popularity among the ancient Romans. They have come to symbolize such divergent concepts as fertility, innocence and seductiveness, inspiring Dutch still-life paintings, Freudian theory, contemporary pop artists and one of the first food emojis. In Japan and other Asian cultures, the short-lived but beautiful cherry blossoms are important elements throughout art and literature.
In this intriguing natural and cultural history, Constance L. Kirker and Mary Newman recount the origins, legends, celebrations, production and health benefits of this beloved tree.
Constance L. Kirker is a retired Pennsylvania State University professor of art history. An avid gardener and foodie, she has written numerous research publications on food history.