The Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus yodiensis) is the most widely planted flowering tree in Japan. Being a hybrid with its species unknown, many questions about the trees origin remain unsolved. We know that the tree was cultivated in the middle of the 19th century and thereafter found its way to Europe and the United States. The city of Tokyo donated many Yoshino cherry trees to Washington DC where they were planted along the Potomac river. The tree is fast growing. It has pale pink to white blossoms growing in clusters along its branches. The plant thought to be a hybrid of Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella “Rosea” has 5 petals and 5-lobed sepals, numerous stamens, solitary pistil, superior ovary. Yoshino cherry trees have a round fruit that quickly turns from green to red, and finally to black. The broad elliptic leaves are serrated and grow alternate on the twigs. The dark reddish bark of the tree is marked with prominent horizontal linear pores called lenticels which are lighter brown than the bark . A major planting of these trees found in Washington DC at the Tidal Basin. Because around 50,000 speciment of Yoshino Cherry grow in Tokyo it is often referred to as “Tokyo Cherry”. Plants appeared in Europe in 1902 and In America in 1912.
Common name: Yoshino Cherry, Tokyo Cherry
Scientific Name (family and order): Prunus x yedoensis (Rosaceae, Rosales)
Species Origin: Japan
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported
Habit: Rounded, spreading 20 – 30’ high.
Habitat: Zone 5 – 8. Woods in hills mixed with parental type plants.
Trunk/Stem: Bark purple-gray with thick bands or corky lenticels
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple. Alternate. Oval, broadly ovate to obovate, 4 ½” long x 2 ½” wide; tapered tip acute to acuminate; rounded to broadly wedge-shaped at base; very small but sharp serrations in margin; both upper and lower blade surfaces are downy particularly when young along veins. With age upper surface smooth and glossy.
Flowers: Perfect. 1 ½” wide; pale pink fading to nearly white. Five petals notched at tip, borne in clusters in early spring before the leaves. Autumn foliage changes from yellow-green through orange to bronze-red.
Fruits and seeds: Fruits nearly-round cherry (drupe) ½” across, red, ripening black