Cherry wood

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Chamber organ
MFA Acc. # 1976.132


Wood from any cherry tree, especially the wild cherry (Prunus avium) or the Black cherry (Prunus serotina). Cherry trees have a smooth reddish brown bark and white blossoms in spring. The close, even-grain wood is strong and smells like roses when freshly cut. It is brownish to light red in color but darkens on exposure. Cherry wood takes a high polish and is valued for instrument cases, furniture, veneers, cabinetry, turnery and decorative items. It was formerly used for airplane propellers. The demand for cherry wood is usually greater than the supply. Other cherry trees used for their wood include the African cherry or makore (Mimusops heckelii); Austrian cherry (Prunus mahaleb); and European cherry (Prunus cerasus).

Cherry settee
MFA Acc. # 1979.266

Synonyms and Related Terms

cherrywood; mazzard (England); merisier (Fr.); cerisier (Fr.); Kirsche (Deut.); ciliegio (It.); cerezo (Esp.); sakura (Jap.); black cherry; Prunus mahaleb (Austrian cherry); Mimusops heckelii (African cherry, makore); Prunus cerasus (European cherry, sour cherry); Prunus avium (wild cherry, sweet cherry); Prunus serotina (black cherry);

Cherry wood (Prunus cerasis)
Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Color: uniform light reddish brown that darkens with age. Rings: distinct. Pores: diffuse, fine. Gain: distinct. Rays: distinct. Hard, lightweight, pleasant smelling. Density = 38-56 ppcf. Specific gravity = 0.63

Paper fiber type: hardwood, diffuse porous. Using transmitted light microscopy, pulp is identified by vessels with irregular open spiraling. Perforations are simple. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: dark blue, but varies with bleaching. Common pulping method: kraft.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 184
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 38-45 ppcf
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (Accessed Dec. 9, 2005)
  • H.L.Edlin, What Wood is That?, Viking Press, New York, 1969
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=43-56 ppcf (0.70-0.90 g/cm3)
  • Walter Rantanen. "Fiber ID Course." Integrated Paper Services. June 2013. Lecture.