The variability of Cherry capillovirus A (CVA) was analysed using a short, 275-bp region of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene amplified by a polyvalent RT-PCR assay. As for other members of the family Betaflexiviridae, CVA appears to show significant diversity, with an average pairwise nucleotide divergence of 9·4% between isolates in the analysed region. Phylogenetic analyses provide evidence for the existence of at least five clusters of CVA isolates, one of which is associated with noncherry hosts of the virus, providing evidence that transmission of CVA isolates between cherry and noncherry hosts is probably rare. Comparison of existing detection techniques using a panel of CVA isolates representative of the various phylogenetic groups indicated that dot-blot hybridization assays show high polyvalence but may lack the sensitivity to detect CVA in some samples. On the other hand, available detection primers failed to amplify a wide range of CVA isolates. Partial genome sequencing of two divergent isolates allowed the identification of conserved genomic regions and the design of new primer pairs with improved polyvalence. These new primer pairs were used to develop PCR assays allowing the reliable detection of CVA isolates belonging to all phylogenetic clusters.