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.