April 5, 2007

Varieties of Cherry Tree in Japan

There are over one hundred cherry tree varieties can be found in Japan. However, a large majority of cherry trees in Japan are of the Somei Yoshino and Yamazakura varieties.

There are several characteristics that differ between the various cherry tree varieties. Cherry trees can be differentiate by the following characteristics :

  • number of flower petals
  • colour of blossomed flowers
  • the fresh leaves
  • time of blooming
  • the form of the tree
Number of flower petals
Most of the flowers that can be found in Japan have five petals. However, it's also common to find flowers with 20 petals or more. Such trees are known as the yaezakura.

Five petal cherry blossoms

Twenty petals cherry blossoms

colour of blossomed flowers
Most varieties produce lightly pink to pure white blossoms, but there are also cherry trees with dark pink or slightly yellowish blossoms. The color of the blossoms of some varieties is also changing while they are in bloom, from white to pink, for instance.

Pink cherry blossoms

slightly yellowish sakura


the fresh leaves
Basically there are two types of cherry trees in relation to the fresh leaves. There are the early blooming trees and late blooming trees. In case of early blooming trees, the fresh leaves usually do not appear until after full bloom, which gives the trees an attractive, homogenous look while they are in full bloom. In case of later blooming trees, the leaves usually appear before the blossoms, giving the trees a more heterogeneous look. Furthermore, the color of the fresh leaves differs between the varieties. In most cases, the fresh leaves are green, coppery brownish or something in between.

Varieties of Cherry Tree in Japan
Slightly brown fresh leaves

Varieties of Cherry Tree in Japan
Green fresh leaves

time of blooming
Most cherry tree varieties carry blossoms in spring. While cherry trees with blossoms of more than five petals i.e yaezakura, are typically the last ones to open their blossoms, about two to four weeks after most five-petaled species

the form of the tree
Cherry trees display various growing habits and come in different shapes and forms: triangular, columnar, V-shape, weeping, flat-topped, etc. Weeping cherry trees are called shidarezakura.



Weeping cherry trees, shidarezakura

* more photos from my flickr set

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John McCrarey said...

It is interesting to get a comment on a year old post, but nice that you found it.

Yes, the Koreans love the cherry blossom. And they should be in peak bloom this weekend.

Interesting tidbit, when the Japanese occupied Korea they planted lots of cherry trees. I work on the military base in Seoul which used to be the HQ for the Japanese occupation forces. We have some beautiful cherry trees all over the base.