Want some fun facts about these beautiful trees?

By Zoë Gowen
February 06, 2019
Spring doesn't just start automatically on March 20. It begins whenever 'Okame' cherry (P. 'Okame') decides to bloom. (If you're wondering how to pronounce the name, imagine that you're calling Joseph Stalin: "Oh, Commie!") In the Lower South, that could
| Credit: Van Chaplin

Study up on some facts before all the cherry trees are blooming this spring.

  1. The cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan. In 1912, they mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki gave the United States 3000 cherry trees to plant around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. In return, the United States gifted Japan with flowering dogwoods in 1915.
  2. The Cherry Blossom Festival in DC is dependent on when the trees bloom each year. There is an official website dedicated to predicting the cherry blossom bloom time. This year, it's predicted that March 22 – 24 will be the peak days.
  3. Most ornamental cherry trees are bred more for the lovely blossoms than the edible fruit. The strictly ornamental genus of cherry trees is the prunus. These trees still produce fruit in the summer, but it's so sour that only animals eat it.
  4. Cherry blossom season lasts for about a month every spring and is always weather dependent early March to early April is a good rule of thumb. Most trees bloom for one to two weeks. The further South, the earlier the trees bloom.
  5. Edible cherry trees are marked by the genus rosaceae (just like the irritable skin condition). Also, it's very hard to grow snackable cherries in the South because they need cool temperatures.
  6. George Washington never actually chopped down a cherry tree. That was a myth created by one of Washington's early biographers, Mason Locke Weems.
  7. They do have a light fragrance.
  8. When blooming, cherry blossom branches make for easy and impactful flower arrangements that last for a long time.
  9. Cherry trees grow quickly, but they don't last very long. You can expect to need a new cherry tree in 20 to 30 years.
  10. Although their looks are delicate, you can actually grow them yourself assuming that you place them in a location with full sun and well-drained soil. Our Grumpy Gardener recommends his favorite types to grow:
  11. The Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) – this is the variety that surrounds the Washington, DC Tidal Basin and has a whole festival dedicated to it. It can grow to 35-feet tall.
  12. The Weeping Cherry (P. x subhirtella) these can have pink or white flowers, come in a variety of sizes. Their branches spill downwards like water coming from a fountain.
  13. Okame Cherry (P. 'Okame') are deep pink, grow to 20-feet with branches veering up in a traditional, rounded tree form. They can be early bloomers sometimes blossoming around Valentine's Day in the Lower South.
  14. Kwanzan Cherry (P. serrulata 'Kwanzan') is a vigorous grower with blooms that look like carnations. It's also a late bloomer that blossoms in mid-to-late Spring and reaches about 30-feet tall.

Have you sniffed out the South's most foul smelling tree? We bet you have, but you didn't know it!