A desirable and sweet fruit, the cherry is one of the contemporary icons of Fundão and the Cova da Beira region. The endeavour in the cherry culture has transformed not only the natural landscape, but also the human and cultural landscape of the communities living around the Gardunha.
The cherry tree arrived in Portugal with the Roman Empire. However, its origins predate the civilizations that disseminated the cherries throughout Europe. The word cherry has its origin in the Greek word Κερασοῦς (Kerasos), name of the ancient Greek city Giresun, in the northwest of Turkey. The word cherry derives from Classical Latin cerăsum or ceresĭa in Popular Latin, which originates from the Greek word Κεράσι (kerási).
The botanical origin of the cherry tree is the sour cherry tree, a fruit tree from the gender Prunus. From the same gender type, we have the plum tree, the peach tree, the damascus tree and the almond tree.
The majority of the cherry trees grown worldwide have had its origin in the Prunus avium Duracina e Prunus avium Juliana cherry varieties. It is from these two varieties that hundreds of others have been created through grafting and in laboratories. It is very easy to buy different world varieties: from cherries of French, German or Italian origin; or from the United States or Canada, by process of laboratory creation.
The cherry is considered a superfood for its benefits for health. Composed by several nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants and low on calories, its properties allow it to be used for medicinal reasons. It can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases, gastric issues while also being helpful in strengthening the immune system, especially in the prevention of joint problems.
The cherry tree
To blossom and give its red delicious cherry, the cherry tree follows a natural life cycle. From germination to dormancy, the cherry tree goes through various stages and needs a specific climate to develop, as well as the human care in the orchard.
During the autumn and winter, the cherry tree goes through a period of dormancy and the shoots are dormant. Through planting or, by chance, if a bird drops a seed; and it has the necessary conditions, it will germinate. In three years, the tree will give fruits.
After polonisation, during spring, the flower petals fall and a small green cherry starts to grow. At the start of summer, the cherries are ripe and ready for picking.
By the end of summer and beginning of autumn, the fruits and leaves fall until the cherry tree enters again in its dormant period.
The success of growing cherry trees depends not only on natural factors, such as hours of cold, but also the work done in the orchard all year round. From plantation, in winter months, to harvesting, between May and June, the cherry orchard needs special care and specific treatments to prevent illnesses, infestations, pruning, grafting; and ensure the tree's health.