The English Oak is the dominant tree in most of Britain, particularly on the richer soils in valley bottoms. It has been planted everywhere in parks, gardens, deer parks and woods. It has male and female flowers on the same tree. Male flowers are on catkins and hang down, female flowers are small and red and located on short stalks called peduncles. Catkins release pollen in April and May and the red female flowers develop into acorns by autumn. The English oak acorns are on stalks but the closely related Sessile oak acorns have no stalks – they are sessile.
The Manchurian Cherry is native to north-east China, Siberia and Korea. It was introduced to Britain in 1910. It was ‘discovered’ by Richard Maack and registered in 1857. It has white flowers that resemble those of the Bird Cherry. It is valued for its beautiful bark, honey-brown when young and red-brown when older. It was rare but can now be found in urban areas and can be confused with other white flowered cherries in spring.
Tree in blossom in mid-April.
Flowers are not yet open at the tip of this spike but fully open at the base.
The flowers emerge with the leaves in mid April. The white flowers are on 7 cm long spikes similar to the Bird Cherry but unlike other Cherries.
The bark is honey-brown and glossy and has horizontal lenticel bands. The tree is prized for its beautiful bark.
Snowy Mespil identification – The Snowy Mespil, also known as the Juneberry, Snowy Mespilus or Serviceberry, is a deciduous shrub or small tree, originally from North America but now growing wild in Europe, including Britain. It is an ornamental tree planted widely in gardens for its delicate white flowers in early spring, red fruit in midsummer and red leaves in autumn. Amelanchier is a genus of up to 20 species. The fruit is very sweet when fully ripe. In North America Juneberry fruit is harvested in June or July and eaten as berries or converted to jams, jellies and wine. The fruit is also popular with birds.
Snowy Mespil identification is by its leaves, white flowers in spring, red fruit in autumn and long, beech-like buds in winter.
Tree in April
Flowers come out with the leaves in April. Each flower has 5 petals.
Berries are red in June/July. They turn black in autumn.
Tree in May
The flowers are in a raceme where 3 to 8 flowers are located close to a central stem.
Buds are alternate
Leaves are oval, parallel-sided and toothed
Buds are coppery and long, like a Beech
Cherry blossom in Europe is usually taken to include those cherry trees that have white or pink flowers in spring and are in the genus Prunus. Known as Ornamental Cherries they include the spectacular Japanese Flowering Cherries but also many other species and varieties that are available through garden centres and nurseries. The flowering season lasts 8 weeks from late March to early May with each species or variety flowering for two to three weeks. The majority flower in April. Dates when photos were taken are shown. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Cherry flowers may be white or pink and have varying numbers of petals. A ‘single’ flower has 5 petals, a ‘semi-double’ flower has 2 rows of 5 petals and a ‘double’ has 3 or more rows. ‘semi-double or double’ flowers arise when some of the rows of anthers become petals.
The Wild Cherry Prunus avium is widely planted in new woodlands, parks, gardens and streets. It has ‘single’ flowers.
Japanese Flowering Cherries are a large group of cultivars that were bred in Japan from the 15th Century and were known collectively as Sato Zakura (village cherries). Their taxonomic origin is unclear but one of their parents is believed to be the Japanese Cherry (Prunus serrulata), native to northern and central China, Korea and Japan. The flowering cherries were introduced to Britain as early as 1822. They bear white or pink flowers in spring. There are more than 20 cultivars on sale in Britain. Some examples are shown here.
‘Shirofugen’ has pink/white ‘double’ flowers and is one of the last to flower in spring. Each flower has 25 or more petals. End April.
‘Tai Haku’, also known as the Great White Cherry, has very large, white, ‘single’ flowers and big leaves. Mid April
Many other Cherry species and their varieties flower in spring and although not as spectacular as the Japanese Flowering Cherries still add to the overall display.