Blossoming trees welcome spring with colour and scent. The Yoshino and Kwanzan flowering cherries planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., in 1912 bring visitors from around the globe to enjoy the show. Other pink-flowering trees join the April extravaganza as well, providing nectar for bees and hummingbirds as well as beautiful blooms.
Cherries are members of the genus Prunus, which includes plums, peaches, apricots and almonds. The most popular cultivars are Yoshino (P. yedoensis), which grows to about 50 feet with fragrant blooms, and Kwanzan (P. serrulata Kwanzan), which produces unscented double pink blooms and grows in a vase shape to 30 feet. Akebono reaches 25 feet with soft pink blooms, and Okame (P. incamp Okame) is a vase-shaped tree with large pink blooms.
Known more for their reddish-purple leaves, flowering plums (Prunus spp.) produce pink flowers in early April. Thundercloud (P. cerasifera Thundercloud) is a widely grown variety that blooms on bare branches. It grows to 25 feet.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Oklahoma redbud (C. reniformis) flower in early April with purple buds opening to pink blooms. The flowers are borne in clusters on bare branches and persist as the green leaves emerge. The trees grow 20 to 30 feet tall in a dense, rounded shape.
Crabapples, members of the Malus genus, are prized not only for their early spring blooms but also for their small fruit, which attracts birds. There are more than 200 varieties. Prairiefire is known as the most disease-resistant cultivar, with purple foliage, pink blooms and red fruit. It grows to 20 feet.
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- University of Missouri Extension; Selecting Landscape Plants: Flowering Trees; Chris Starbuck; October 2004
- University of Virginia Extension; Selecting Landscape Plants: Flowering Trees; Diane Relf, et al.; May 2009
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension; Ornamental Plum, Cherry, Apricot & Almond; Debbie Shaughnessy; June 1999