I've got a cherry tree in my garden (courtesy of the house's builder) which this year is full of fruits. They look very nice but I am not sure they are edible. I tried one the other day and it was lightly sour but sweet. The flowers are white.

On a forum somebody mentioned that if even the birds avoid the fruit they are not fit for consumption and mine are untouched.

UPDATE: In the end I DID make a cherry pie. It was gone in minutes and nobody felt ill. So the cherries are edible.

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    Birds like to wait until they are overripe so they can get drunk on them. Yours look ready for picking, pitting, and pie making. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 12:51
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    What birds eat and what humans eat can vary a lot - and so can be the feathered population in your region. I'd count myself lucky if the birds ignored my berries. <goes out to shoo away the blackbirds from my currants and amelamchiesr>
    – Stephie
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 14:21
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    Both the look and the description of the taste are consistent with a normal pie cherry. I'm also unaware of any "poisonous cherry" - ones with unappealing taste, yes, poisonous, no. Unless there's a wicked queen in play, at least, and they usually prefer apples. (related question is at gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/23896/… for the pre-history of this tree ;-) )
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:18
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    @algiogia When your tree loses its leaves for winter, get that stake off your tree. Its trunk is so tiny for such a head of berries. By being allowed to move in the wind your tree will grow a thicker, stronger trunk and set down roots for support.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:14
  • I have both a pie cherry and a sweet cherry. The birds pick the sweet cherry tree clean before the fruit is ripe, but they only take as small amount of cherries from the pie cherry tree. I assume they aren't fond of the taste and won't eat them when there are other options.
    – michelle
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:23

3 Answers 3


Fruits with pulp are made to be eaten: it is the purpose of such fruits: they help the plants to propagate. Cherries are made to be eaten by birds.

So I think birds find a lot more cherries and other nice fruits around you. Or cats around you make them not to fly on your garden. Just wait, and when some bird will find your cherries mature, it will start to eat it, then all his friends (and not) will eat them.

Cherries are edible, just the taste could not be so nice, in that case, sugar will help them to be transformed in a good jam.

Also considering the number of fruits (and the size), I don't think your builder has planted a special cherry (e.g. a flower cherry, or something more exotic).

I would anyway try to contact him, and ask. Probably it could give you some more information (variety, a good plant nurse, etc.)

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    Thanks Giacomo but I don't think contacting them would be useful. When they offered the tree all they could say was "a tree with pink flowers". And it ended up having white flowers :)
    – algiogia
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 14:25
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    Ah. I was thinking he was used to plant the same (and cheap) cherry tree. So it seems he expected a Japanese cherry. Still edible, but with smaller fruits, but still large core. So it is not (as far I know) famous for being a tasty fruit. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:30
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi Your statement about pulpy fruit is meant to be eaten; right off the top of my head, the berries of nightshade would be a bad idea to eat. Are there animals that can eat this stuff and not get sick and die? I know dogs can eat stuff that I get sick and almost die just to watch!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:11
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    @stormy: I overgeneralised. In any case many fruits are not toxic to birds. They have a very different metabolism compared ours. Flower and fruits are evolved to increase next generation probability of living. Poison animals is not a real gain (which is different for the green or not ripen parts). Note: some plants are con artists, imitating fruits or smell of other plants, but without sugar (or nectar), which is energy intensive to produce. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:45
  • There have been quite a few times you questioned my statements for good reason. I just thought I'd repay the favor!! Major grins!!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 23:32

Just as with apples, there are many kinds of cherries, some of them sweet and ready to eat when picked, and others that are sour to eat, yet flavorful when baked into pies. Most birds and rodents can't bake very well, so they tend to avoid the more sour varieties.

See: Sweet vs. Sour Cherries: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Baking.


I purchased what was supposed to be an ornamental cherry tree. I didn't know that branches from the root stock should have been trimmed off. (So I was told.) Now that tree is at least 15 - 20 feet high and makes what looks like Ranier cherries every year and they fall and completely cover the patio. I have to sweep them up every year. Neighbors are asking if they are edible and I have to honestly tell them I don't know.

I don't want to say eat some and find out cause if they get sick I'll feel terible. (Might even get sued! LOL)

So how do I find out? Are there labs that could tell me for a reasonable price?

  • Welcome Joe, this site does not like a forum. Only answers are expected in the answer section. And this is liable to get deleted. You have an excellent question there, please ask it in the question section. And it would help if you could post photos of tree, leaves and berries Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 0:51

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