Tree of the Month

Flowering Cherry's

 

The Ohio Chapter ISA continued efforts is to advance responsible tree care practices through research, technology, and education while promoting the benefits of trees. This month Tree-Of-The-Month is commonly known as the Flowering Cherry's (Prunus species).

The cherry blossom tree is truly a sight to behold, especially when it is in full riotous bloom in the crisp fresh spring air in Ohio. There are several varieties of the cherry blossom trees, and while most of them produce flowering branches full of small white, to red, to pinkish-hued flowers, some of them produce actual cherries. Flowering Cherries can become an iconic tree’s in private and public gardens and the urban forest. If planted as a single tree or in groupings, Flowering Cherries can provide a significant flowering event that will likely be enjoyed by all who experience they’re gentle, wispy, bright, clean, crisp appearance after a long winter.

Most flowering cherry trees are native to Japan and other parts of Asia, and they are roughly adapted to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 8, though specific climate requirements vary among different varieties. Flowering cherry trees are among the showiest and most dramatic trees that can be grown in your home and business landscape. They burst into bloom after a long winter, practically covering their branches with confetti-like flowers in shades of reds or pink or white. The flowers of the many varieties are both attractive and fragrant.

After the blossoms fade in late spring, the trees stay interesting through summer, thanks to their dark green foliage. In fall, many put on a show with festively colored leaves in shades of amber, orange, and red. After the leaves drop, you can enjoy the shiny, coppery bark through the winter.

Planting Requirements

Best grown in moist, fertile, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering in full sun. Some cultivars are marginally winter hardy to certain areas in Ohio. Check with a local Ohio International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist for what cultivars will work in your location.

Cultivars

This tree species and its various cultivars are often sold and is available from nurseries throughout the Ohio region and it transplants easily.

 

Yoshino Yoshino 2


Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoenis) - Habit: a round topped, wide spreading tree that reaches 30 to 50 feet at maturity. Flowers: white, single in clusters of 2 to 5, and almond scented. This hybrid cherry of unknown Japanese origin was first noticed in Tokyo about 1872 and is now one of the favorite cultivated cherry trees of Japan. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6: Range of Average minimum temperature 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Kwazan cherry Kwazan 2
Kwazan  

Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata "Kwanzan") - Habit: an upright-spreading tree to 30 feet, with a rounded crown and stiff ascending branches. Wider than tall at maturity. Flowers: double, with about 30 petals, in pendulous clusters of 3 to 5, sometimes more, clear pink and fading but small, up to 2½ inches across, with many more or less petaloid stamens often partly concealing the two green leafy carpels which protrude from the center of the flower. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 5: Range of Average minimum temperature -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Takesimensis

Takesimensis Cherry (Prunus takesimensis) - Habit: an upright spreading tree that can reach 30-40 ft. at maturity. Flowers: white, in large clusters with short pedicels. This species is known to grow in wet locations in its native habitat. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6: Range of Average minimum temperature 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Autumn

Autumn Flowering Cherry (Prunus subhirtella var. autumnalis) - Habit: an upright rounded tree to 25-30 ft. with a 15-20 ft. spread. Flowers: semi-double, pink. During warm periods in the fall and winter months they will open sporadically and then fully flower the following spring. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 4: Range of Average minimum temperature -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Akebo

Akebono Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis "Akebono") - Habit: a round topped, wide spreading tree that can reach 30 to 50 feet at maturity. Flowers: single, pale pink that fade to white, in clusters of 2 to 5. This cultivar is losing popularity in the nursery trade and is being replaced with the cultivar Afterglow (Prunus x yedoensis "Afterglow") which has pink blossoms that are deeper in color and do not fade. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6: Range of Average minimum temperature 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Pendula

Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella var. pendula) - Habit: tree 10 to 40 feet high, with a round-flattened, gracefully, weeping crown. Usually grafted about 6 feet on the understock. Flowers: single, pink. This variety is very variable and select cultivars differ in form and color. (i.e., "Pendula Rosea", single deep pink flowers; "Pendula Plena Rosea", double, pink flowers; "Pendula Alba", single, white flowers; "Rosey Cloud", double, bright pink flowers; "Snowfozam", single, white flowers etc.). Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 5: Range of Average minimum temperature -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Usuzumi Cherry (Prunus spachiana f. ascendens) - Habit: tree to 40 ft. with a round, gracefully ascending crown. Flowers: single, white, turning to grey. The Usuzumi trees can be found in West Potomac Park in Washington DC. This cultivar was propagated from the 1,400+ year old Usuzumi tree growing in the village of Itasho Neo, in Gifu Prefecture of Japan. It is said that that the 26th Emperor Keitai of Japan planted this tree to celebrate his ascension to the throne. The Usuzumi tree was declared a National Treasure of Japan in 1922. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6: Range of Average minimum temperature 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sargent Cherry (Prunus sargentii) - Habit: Upright to 40-50 ft. with spreading branches approximately equal to height. Flowers: single, deep pink, in clusters. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 4: Range of Average minimum temperature -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Afterglow Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis "Afterglow") - A handsome pink-flowered form, that does not fade to white. It has an upright-spreading habit growing 20 to 25 feet high and wide, has a yellow fall color.

Shirofugen Cherry (Prunus serulata "Shirofugen") - Habit: a flat topped, wide spreading tree to 20-25 ft. Flowers: double, in large clusters, white when open aging to pink. Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 5: Range of Average minimum temperature -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Okame Cherry (Prunus x "Okame") - Habit: Upright tree to 25 ft. with a 20 ft. spread. Flowers: semi-double, pink. The earliest flowering cherry. USDA Hardiness Zone 5: Range of Average minimum temperature -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA Hardiness Zone 6: Range of Average minimum temperature 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ethnobotany

Flowering Cherry plays a critical role in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures. Cherry tree's importance and meanings vary between each of their respective cultures. Many parts of the United States and the world, Cherry trees, represent the friendship and gratitude of peoples of various Asian cultures have with others from other parts of the world, including Ohio.

Japan

The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In Japan, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It's a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short.

The Kwanzan cherry, is responsible for the spectacular pink blossoming show each spring in Washington, D.C. The first Japanese flowering cherries planted in the nation’s capital were a gift from the mayor of Tokyo. The Kwanzan cherry is a native of Japan, the tree was introduced to America in 1902. Japanese legend states that each spring a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, awakening the sleeping Kwanzan cherry trees with her delicate breath.

In Japan, cherry blossom trees, called “sakura,” are held with the highest esteem. The ceremonial receptions, known as Hanami, are generally excursions where people gather to ponder the transient nature of life and mortality, since cherry blossoms are known for maintaining a short lifespan. This concept ties in with Buddhist ideals concerning the nature of life. In addition, the samurai culture of Japan also held great admiration for the flower since samurais (like the cherry blossom) were considered to have relatively short life spans and because they believed the flower represented drops of blood. Nowadays, the flower represents innocence, simplicity and spring.

Korea

Cherry blossoms have the meaning of purity and beauty - it also signifies a magical time as South Korea shrugs off the winter chill and re-emerges bearing lovely colors and scents. In Korea, it’s called the beot-kkot season although people also use the borrowed Japanese word sakura (meaning cherry blossom), and refer to the activity of blossom viewing as hanami, a much-anticipated event usually involving friends or families walking or picnicking under the trees.

Part of the reason hanami is so popular is that it marks the arrival of spring. Supermarkets stock up on cherry-blossom-flavored snacks months in advance and coffee houses devise festive drinks (cherry blossom Frappuccino, anyone?). In early March, the Korea Meteorological Administration releases its forecast of when and where the fabled flowers will appear. When they finally burst into bloom, people celebrate with festivities that last for days. There are parties, concerts, even a cherry blossom marathon in the city of Gyeongju.

The Korean cherry tree, known as the king cherry, originates from Jeju Island, where the blossoming starts in late March. It is a rare plant, however, and the Yoshino variety, which is native to Japan, is more common. There are hundreds of varieties of cherry trees around the world - and the blossoms aren’t always pink. Some of them, like the Ukon variety, change color throughout the blooming period – turning from greenish yellow to white to pink.

China

The symbolic references of the cherry blossom in China hold quite a different meaning than that of Japan. In China, the flower is associated with female beauty and dominance, as well as feminine sexuality. It ultimately symbolizes power and strength. However, within the Chinese herbal traditions, the cherry blossom is often a symbol of love and passion.

Symbol of Humanity

In 1912, Japan donated. 3,000 cherry trees to the United States to represent friendship and political alliances. Japan has given cherry trees to many other countries besides the U.S., including Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey.

Ohio

Operation 1000 Cherry Trees has planted the colorful, flowering trees all across the region, including about 35 in recent months alongside of the section of the Great Miami River between the Dayton Art Institute and Carillon Historical Park.

Tree Selection Tips
The Ohio Chapter ISA recommends working with an ISA Certified Arborist when selecting or caring for any tree in your landscape. To better guide you on the vital plant information use our friendly users guide below:

Genus Prunus
Plant Family Rosacea (Rose Family)
Life cycle Perennial woody
Origin Introduced from Japan, China, Korea
Habitat Full Sun
Tree form Variable depending on cultivar selected
Does it produce shade? Yes
Soil

Will grow in acidic and some alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay soils.  While it prefers moist conditions, the tree species has some drought tolerance.

Bloom season March-April-May very showy
Fruit/Seed Produces a small stone fruit.  In most cases not a messy fruit.  This tree is an important source of food for many small birds and mammals including robins, cardinals and wawwings.
Plant height 5-40 ft.
Plant spread 5-40 feet
Growth rate Medium-Fast
Suitable for planting under or near electric(utility) wires Yes/No - Depends of cultivar chosen
Potential Concerns Susceptible to many insect and disease pests.  Potential diseases include leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot and fireblight.  Potential insects include aphids, scale, borers, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles.  Spider mites may also be troublesome.


Written by Mark A. Webber BCMA, CPH, LTE,  MArborA, OCMNT, TRAQ

 

Sources:

https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/tree/flowering-cherry/ (Collected on April 5, 2020)

https://www.stadlergardencenters.com/trees/index.php?tid=1067 (Collected on April 5,2020)

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/types-of-trees.htm (Collected on April 5, 2020)

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a915 (Collected on April 5,2020)

https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=812 (Collected on April 5,2020)

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-significance-of-the-c_1_b_3832895 (Collected on April 5,2020)

https://www.gardenguides.com/13428710-what-is-the-meaning-of-cherry-blossom-flowers.html (Collected on April 5, 2020)

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/for-more-than-1000-years-cherry-blossoms-move-world-to-emotion (Collected on April 5, 2020)

https://www.crooked-compass.com/blog/cherry-blossoms-south-korea/ (Collected on April 5, 2020)

https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=koreas-beautiful-blossom-season (Collected on April 5,2020)

https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/japanese-born-businessman-led-effort-plant-000-cherry-trees-bellbrook-why/dTCYQy8CgwAnIh50UGuERP/ (Collected on April 5, 2020)

 

Photograph sources Mark A. Webber 2020