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Cabinet Wood Species: Cherry

American Black Cherry Tree

Where Does Cherry Wood Come From?

Cherry wood comes from the American Black Cherry Tree (Prunus serotina). It grows all along the east coast, midwest, and throughout parts of Mexico. The majority of the cherry wood used in furniture and cabinetmaking is grown in sustainably managed forests in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. The American Black Cherry tree produces a tiny, tart, clustered fruit that birds love. Sweet cherry trees (Prunus avium) produce the cherries that we buy for eating at the grocery store.

What Are the Types of Cherry Wood?

Cherry is a multicolored hardwood. It is characterized by red undertones but varies in color from white to a deep rich brown. Because cherry wood is light-sensitive, it will darken and ripen with age. This gives the species a rich, warm, and lustrous patina. This characteristic makes cherry wood cabinets much sought after.

Cherry has a smooth, close-grained appearance with a relatively uniform texture and random markings. While small pin knots, streaks, and gum pockets are common, these lend character to the wood. In addition, the generally even grain allows easy application of finishes.

Cherry wood comes in a light grain pattern called sapwood since it is milled closer to the tree’s bark. It also comes in heartwood, the wood closer to the tree’s center.

transitional cherry kitchen cabinets-Cabinets of the Desert
transitional cherry kitchen cabinets cabinets of the desert

Cherry Wood for Kitchen Cabinets

The American Black Cherry tree is a deciduous (leaf shedding) tree, so cherry wood is a hardwood. Woods are measured on a Janka Scale, which shows how well a particular wood resists scratching and denting. The cherry wood Janka value is 995. For reference, the softest wood is Poplar on the spectrum of wood found in cabinetry, with a Janka rating of 540, and the hardest wood is Hickory, rating 1820. Check out has an overview article on the Janka scale. 

Want to learn what other fine hardwoods are available to choose for your kitchen cabinets? Read more about Natural Wood on the Cabinets of the Desert blog.