The Many Colors of Cherries

Ask any first-grader what color cherries are, and most will say “red.” On one hand, they’d be right; humans tend to name colors by need perception and depth of knowledge, and for the average first-grader the color red is explanation enough for any number of hues (for more on cultural color names, including the always-interesting reasons why some cultures only have two colors – black and white – for all the hues, read here).

For the graphic designer, however, red is not descriptive enough; and finding the perfect hue of red (or any other color) can make or break a design. Let’s take a look at cherries. Not only does any single cherry have a range of different hues, different cherry varieties tend to have specific and identifiable color traits.

There are many different types of cherries – bing, black, black stone, chelan, choke, lapins, maraschino, morello, napoleon, north star, Rainier, Spanish, sweetheart, and tieton, to name a few – and each has its own color traits. Let’s examine three of the most popular varieties to see what color hues we can derive.

Bing Cherry

The bing cherry is renowned for its delicious flavor and is probably the variety of cherry you’ve seen used in many stock photos. From this photo of bing cherries I was able to pull a range of colors, including the above.

Black Cherry

Despite their name, black cherries actually run the gamut in colors, from nearly light pink to dark, grapish-purple.

Maraschino Cherry

Maraschino cherries are named for their process and preparation, not their specific variety taxonomy, and are thus derived from Royal Ann, Rainier, or gold varieties. Their preparation for confections and other sweet applications renders these cherries a bright, almost-consistent red …

… and green.

Perhaps this little exercise will help you think differently about color. When you have a full appreciation for the impact it has on mood, branding, and design effect, you can use it as a powerful tool to enhance your designs with style.

4 Responses to The Many Colors of Cherries

  1. Carrie Grove October 18, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Really enjoyed this post! Color IS so much more complex than one might first think. The slightest variation can, at times, change the feel or the intention of an entire printed piece.

  2. Brian October 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks for your feedback, Carrie! You’re absolutely right about the complexity of color and how the slightest variation can influence in an entirely different way. Thanks for posting!

  3. David October 24, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    Cool I never new thet there were green cherries and last night I was watching a live stream and we somehow got on the subject of cherries so I looked up ‘what are the colours of cherries’ or somthing like that then I found this I coppied and pasted the link but any way I was surprised that there are green cherries!

  4. Brian Morris October 26, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    David, very cool! I think the green color actually comes from food coloring when candied cherries are made – I don’t think such bright green cherries exist naturally, but you can pick them up at your local grocer!

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