Flowering Cherry Trees

Updated February 21, 2017

Flowering cherry trees belong to the Prunus genus and usually do not bear edible fruits, depending on the species and cultivated variety, or "cultivar." There are many different types of flowering cherry trees available, most of which are ornamental and beloved for their springtime blossoms. Some flowering cherries bloom longer than others, and some even have flowers that are highly fragrant.


The most common species of flowering cherry trees include the Japanese flowering cherry or Oriental cherry, or Prunus serrulata; the Higan cherry, or P. subhirtella; the Yoshino cherry, or P. x yedoensis; the Taiwan cherry, or P. campanulata; the purple-leaf sand cherry, or P. x cistena; and the Okame cherry, or P. x incamp 'Okame.' Other popular varieties of flowering cherry trees include the Sargent cherry and the double-flowered Mazzard cherry, as well as a wide variety of species cultivars. The Kwanzan cherry is a popular Japanese flowering cherry cultivar, the Pendula is a common weeping Higan cherry cultivar and the Daybreak or Akebono and Shidare cultivars are popular types of Yoshino cherry trees.


Most Japanese flowering cherry cultivars grow 20 to 30 feet tall, with a wide-spreading form. The Amanogawa or Erecta cultivar has a more narrow, columnar growth habit, however. Most types of Higan cherry trees grow 20 to 40 feet tall and 15 to 30 feet wide, and the Autumnalis cultivar grows in a multiple-trunk form with upright branches and a rounded crown. The Daybreak or Akebono variety of Yoshino cherry grows to about 25 feet tall and wide with a spreading but rounded canopy, while the Shidare is a weeping Yoshino cherry tree.

The Taiwan cherry tree is slender and small, growing 20 to 25 feet in height and spread, while the purple-leaf sand cherry is even smaller, reaching just 7 to 10 feet in height. The Okame cherry grows 20 to 30 feet tall and wide, with a vase-shaped form that later becomes more rounded as the tree ages. The double-flowered Mazzard cherry reaches up to 40 feet in height, with a densely pyramidal to conical form, while the Sargent cherry has an upright, dense growth form and reaches up to 50 feet tall.


Higan and Japanese flowering cherry trees bloom from early to midspring, but the exact blooming time depends on the specific cultivar. Of the Japanese flowering cherry cultivars, Mt. Fugi or Shirotae blooms in the early spring, while Amanogawa and Kwanzan bloom in the midspring. The Shirofugen and Shogetsu or Shimidsu bloom in the late spring. The Higan cherry cultivar Autumnalis blooms in the early spring and sometimes again in the autumn when temperatures are warm enough, while the Pendula blooms in only the early spring. Yoshino, Okame, Sargent and double-flowered Mazzard cherry trees bloom in the early spring as well, while the Taiwan cherry blooms earlier, in the late winter. The purple-leaf sand cherry typically blooms in the mid- to late spring.


Most Yoshino and Japanese flowering cherry trees are short-lived, surviving for only 15 to 20 years. The Higan cherry tree lives longer, however. In general, flowering cherry trees are susceptible to a wide variety of diseases and insect pests, including viruses, cankers, leaf spots, root rot, twig blight, scale insects, tent caterpillars, aphids and borers. These trees usually require regular irrigation, fertilisation and pruning as well.

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