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Yoshino Cherry
Tree in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Species: P. × yedoensis
Binomial name
Prunus × yedoensis
Matsum.

Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry; Japanese: 染井吉野 Somei-yoshino) is a hybrid cherry of unknown origin, probably between Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella. It occurs as a natural hybrid in Japan, where it has also long been cultivated in Yoshino (after which it is named) and elsewhere; it is now one of the most popular and widely planted cultivated flowering cherries (sakura) in temperate climates worldwide.[1][2]

It is a small deciduous tree that at maturity grows to be 5-12 m (rarely 15 m) tall. It grows well in hardiness zones 5-8 and does well in full sun and moist but well drained soil. The leaves are alternately arranged, 6-15 cm long and 4-7 cm broad, with a serrated margin; they are often bronze-toned when newly emerged, becoming dark green by summer. The flowers emerge before the leaves in early spring; they are fragrant, 3-3.5 cm diameter, with five white or pale pink petals. The flowers grow in clusters of five or six together. The fruit, a small cherry, is a globose drupe 8-10 mm in diameter; they are an important source of food for many small birds and mammals, including robins and thrushes. The fruit contain little flesh and much concentrated red juice, which can stain clothing and brick. The fruit is only marginally sweet to the human palate.[1][2]

Cultivation and uses

Yoshino cherry blossoms
Yoshino cherry trees (about 2 months after its flowers blooming period)

Because of its fragrant, light pink flowers, manageable size, and elegant shape, the Yoshino Cherry is often used for ornamental purposes. Many cultivars have been selected; notable examples include 'Akebono', 'Ivensii', and 'Shidare Yoshino'.[1]

In Japan there is a legend that each spring a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, wakening the sleeping cherry trees to life with her delicate breath.

The Yoshino cherry was introduced to Europe and North America in 1902.[3] This tree, along with the cultivar 'Kanzan' (derived from the related Prunus serrulata), is responsible for the spectacular pink show each spring in Washington D.C. and other cities. Several of 2000 Japanese cherry trees given to the citizens of Toronto by the citizens of Tokyo in 1959 were planted in High Park.

From the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period, gardeners and craftsman who made the village at Somei in Edo (now Komagome Toshima ward, Tokyo) grew Someiyoshino. They offered them as "Yoshinozakura". Prunus yedoensis was called yamazakura (meaning mountain cherry). In 1900 they were named someiyoshino.

References

  1. ^ a b c Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  2. ^ a b Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  3. ^ Mitchell, A. F. (1974). A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-212035-6
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