The physicochemical characteristics of four cherry species (Prunus avium, Prunus cerasus, Prunus pseudocerasus and Prunus tomentosa) were evaluated. Inter-species variability was greater than intra-species differences. Glucose and fructose were the main sugars, and malic acid was the main organic acid in all species. Combining HPLC-DAD and LC-ESI-MS/MS technologies, total 25 phenolic components were preliminarily identified. P. avium was characterised by high fruit weight, edible proportion, sugar content and low acid content, which made it suitable for fresh eating. P. cerasus was high in acid content and anthocyanins content, making it a good processing species. P. pseudocerasus had rich flavonols varieties and high proportion of hydrocinnamic acids. P. tomentosa was characterised by high total phenolics content (especially flavonols and tannins) and antioxidant activity, indicating a great developmental potential as a health fruit. The results of the present study might provide theoretical guidance for the further development and utilisation of cherries.
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