‘Accolade’. A small, umbrella-shaped tree with fine, wide-spreading branches, usually flowering in February or March. The small, translucent flowers are semi-double and coloured an intense light pink. ‘Accolade’ is a modern (1952) English hybrid of O-yama-zakura (Prunus sargentii) and higan (spring) cherry (P. × subhirtella) that is unfortunately prone to disease, especially in crowded situations.
‘Afterglow’. This modern (1984) American hybrid cherry is a chance seedling of Prunus × yedoensis ‘Akebono’. It differs from other Yoshino types, such as ‘Somei-yoshino’ and ‘Akebono’, by its brighter pink flowers, more horizontally spreading branches, and flower buds and branches that are reportedly more resistant to freezing damage.
‘Akebono’ (daybreak cherry). A medium sized tree growing 8 m × 8 m (25 ft) with a stiff, upright-spreading crown, eventually becoming umbrella shaped. ‘Akebono’ flowers in late March or early April, usually following the purple-leaf plums by about a week. Flowers are produced abundantly, shell-pink fading to nearly white. ‘Akebono’ is a seedling of Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino cherry) selected in 1925 at a California nursery. ‘Akebono’ is by far the most commonly planted early spring flowering cherry in this area, and is celebrated for its essentially rainproof flowers and freedom from disease. Autumn colour is yellow to pumpkin orange.
‘Ama-no-gawa’ (heaven’s river). This Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) dates from the late 19th century and is one of the most immediately recognizable of all cherries because of its characteristic narrow crown of strongly erect branches and its fragrant, often upward facing flowers. These fully double, apple-blossom flowers are borne profusely, usually in late April to early May. The best specimens are always found growing in open situations with good air circulation. In the West, ‘Ama-no-gawa’ is known as the pillar cherry.
‘Asagi’ (pale yellow). A rare Sato Zakura (Japanese village cherry) and one of three separate ‘Ukon’-like clones present in the Vancouver area. ‘Asagi’ eventually forms a broad, rounded crown with deep green leaves that turn orange and red in autumn. The double, 5-cm wide flowers are distinctly pale yellow, and usually have subtle green striping on the outer petals. The flowers of ‘Asagi’ appear in late April or early May, after leaf emergence, and are essentially intermediate between the pink-tinged creamy yellow flowers of 'Ukon' and the more strongly green striped ‘Kizakura’. Like ‘Kizakura’, the flowers often display one or two extra sepals.
‘Atsumori’. A rare, diminutive cherry tree related to the early-flowering higan (spring) cherries (Prunus × subhirtella); however, this cultivar blooms a month later, in mid April, and is less disease prone. The button-like, pale pink flowers are about 3 cm in diameter, fully double and generously produced. The cultivar is named for the young Japanese poet and courtier Atsumori, who, at the age of 15, was killed in a battle during the Genpei Wars of the1180s. This tragic tale is commemorated in traditional Japanese Noh and Kabuki theatre.
‘Autumnalis Rosea’ (pink winter cherry) is much like the Japanese ‘Jugatsu-zakura’ (‘Autumnalis’ or white winter cherry), but with clear pink, semi-double flowers. The early flowers of ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ are held tightly to the outer twigs, but the stalks are longer with later flowers; as well, the early flowers are significantly lighter in colour than those produced after midwinter. Unfortunately prone to brown rot disease, which infects flowers and new shoots in early spring.
Avium ‘Plena’ (Prunus avium ‘Plena’) (double-flowered mazzard cherry). Prunus avium, the cultivated European sweet cherry, is a very robust, adaptable (even weedy) tree that forms a large rounded crown with distinctive branching and coarsely serrated leaves. One of the identifying features of this species is the strongly reflexed calyx that backs the almond-scented white flowers. In Prunus avium ‘Plena’, the flowers are fully double and very showy. Flowering time is late April. Trees produce no fruit, so are not weedy.
‘Beni-shidare’ (also known as ‘Pendula Rosea’). A dark pink-flowered selection of the ito-zakura (Japanese thread cherry) (Prunus pendula), this cultivar is very common in residential plantings. It has a strongly weeping habit and long, slender branches that often reach the ground. Trees grow slowly to 8 m (25 ft) in height. ‘Beni-shidare’ flowers in March with delicate pointed buds opening to 5-petaled bell-shaped blossoms about 2cm across.
Birch Bark Cherry (Tibetan cherry). A wild species native to the high mountains of western China, including Tibet, botanically Prunus serrula. The small flowers are greenish white, but the exfoliating, shiny, mahogany-brown bark is its most distinctive feature. The species is unfortunately highly susceptible to bacterial canker, which can easily ruin the bark effect. Other ornamental cherries are sometimes grafted on the stems of birch bark cherry, but the effect is seldom pleasing in the long run.
‘Fudan-zakura’. A very rare, unusual Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) known since the early 19th century and celebrated for its habit of producing flowers at almost any time over the winter and spring (the name means “cherry without interruption”). Locally, this cultivar generally flowers all at once in early March, at the same time as the leaves are emerging coppery brown. The small single white flowers are backed by reddish calyces and open from soft pink buds. When developing during cold weather, the pedicels (flower stalks) are usually exceptionally short and the flowers tightly held on the branches. A small tree with a rounded crown known in Vancouver from only one or two individuals.
‘Hosokawa-nioi’ (Hosokawa incense). Locally, one of the rarest and most deliciously fragrant of the Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherries). The only specimen yet identified in Vancouver was planted between two 'Tai Haku' along Burrard Street in Seaforth Peace Park some 50 years ago. This upright, spreading cherry, which is named for the Japanese samurai clan Hosokawa, produces loose clusters of large, white flowers on long, sturdy pedicels in early April. Each flower has five narrow petals, and at its centre, a boss of prominent stamens with three or more small, flag-like petaloids (incomplete petals).
‘Ichihara-tora-no-o’ (Ichihara tiger tail). This rare Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) is a small tree with a spreading, open crown with numerous, short, upright spurs. The fluffy, double white flowers open in mid-April, to about 3.5 cm across, from pink buds. They are borne in compact clusters together with sheaves of bronze-tinted leaves on the spur-like branches. The overall effect is unusually crowded, but not unattractive. Discovered in the village of Ichihara (near Kyoto) and named in the early part of the 20th century, the cultivar is probably much older. The tightly clothed branches with alternating flowers and leaves is the basis for the name.
‘Ichiyo’ (one leaf). A Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) known from before 1850. The name “one leaf” refers to the single phylloid (leafy) style at the centre of most flowers. ‘Ichiyo’ is a robust, disease-free cultivar that is sometimes confused with ‘Shirofugen’, as both are large trees with double, light pink flowers. However, ‘Ichiyo’ blooms a few weeks earlier and has fewer petals in each of its flowers.
‘Ito-kukuri’. This sparsely branched, umbrella-shaped Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) is known from before 1681. It is similar to, if not indistinguishable from ‘Temari’.Whatever it is called, the tree produces 4 to 4.5 cm diameter, bowl-shaped, soft pink, double flowers of singular beauty in mid April. Its flowers are borne on short flowering spurs and are so crowded as to appear bundled together (‘Ito-kukuri’means “bundled with thread”). Easily confused with ‘Yokihi’ and ‘Takasago’, which have similarly tight, rounded flower clusters, but those cultivars differ in a number of features, including having slightly smaller, fragrant flowers. Close inspection of the flowers of ‘Ito-kukuri’ reveals pink veins in the petals. Extremely rare in the Vancouver area.
‘Jo-nioi’ (supreme scent). This rare Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) has a shapely, low spreading crown, and masses of pure white flowers in late April or early May; however, ‘Jo-nioi’ is primarily renowned for the delicious, crushed almond fragrance of its flowers. Individual blossoms are borne in profuse, long-stalked corymbs and open at the same time as the leaves emerge bright green. The flowers are five-petaled, about 4.5 cm across, with an occasional small petaloid in the centre of each flower. Only a single tree is known from the Vancouver area, at VanDusen Gardens.
‘Jugatsu-zakura’ (‘Autumnalis’ or white winter cherry). This is a winter-blooming selection of the higan (spring) cherry (Prunus × subhirtella) known from the 5th century in Japan. ‘Jugatsu-zakura’ means “10th month cherry.” It is a small, open tree with twiggy branches; flowering in Vancouver, despite its name, in January and February. The tiny, semi-double flowers are white, blushed pink, and held tightly to the outer twigs. The flower stalks are longer when produced later in early spring. This rare cultivar is similar to the commonly planted ‘Autumnalis Rosea’(pink winter cherry) and is similarly prone to brown rot.
‘Kanzan’ (bordering mountain). The most commonly planted of all flowering cherries, also sometimes known as ‘Kwanzan’ or ‘Sekiyama’. A fast growing tree with a large, upright, spreading crown and with opulent, long-lasting double pink flowers produced in late April or May. The leaves emerge bronze green at the same time as the flower buds open. A Sato-zakura (village cherry) in cultivation in Japan since the 17th century. The usual height and spread is 9 m × 9 m (30ft).
‘Kiku-shidare-zakura’ (weeping chrysanthemum cherry). This Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) is similar to and perhaps indistiguishable from ‘Cheal’s Weeping’ cherry, which is more often mentioned in the English-language ornamental cherry literature. These chrysanthemum-flowered cherries may be confused with other pendulous double-flowered cherries, such as P. pendula ‘Yae-beni-shidare’, but their distinctive flowers are larger, with more petals, their stems thicker and leaves more coarsely toothed. Susceptible to both brown rot and bacterial canker and commonly spoiled by those diseases.
‘Kiku-zakura’ (chrysanthemum cherry). A rarely cultivated Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry), now nearly lost to cultivation in Vancouver. ‘Kiku-zakura’ is known for its bright, deep pink, fully double flowers that appear in April. Each bloom is composed of more than one hundred separate overlapping, pointed petals, the overall effect of which is more like a miniature pom-pom than a typical chrysanthemum flower. The trees are usually small and narrowly upright, eventually becoming more open and spreading with age.
‘Kizakura’ (yellow cherry). A classic Sato Zakura (Japanese village cherry) known from before 1750, ‘Kizakura’ is similar to ‘Ukon’, but opens a week or more later. The cultivar has green, yellow and white flowers, the outer petals amost always entirely green and the inner petals variously green-striped; Like ‘Ukon’, ‘Kizakura’ is usually narrow in youth, but it eventually forms a broad, rounded crown. ‘Kizakura’ usually has flowers with one or two extra sepals, and the heart of each flower and often the mid line of each petal becomes reddish as it ages. The 5-cm wide, double flowers appear in late April or early May with dull coppery leaves that change to deep green before turning orange and red in autumn.
‘Mikuruma-gaeshi’ (the royal carriage returns). This distinctive Sato Zakura (Japanese village cherry), known since the early 15th century, has a name steeped in Japanese courtly tradition. As the story goes... Two courtiers each glanced at a cherry tree while passing through a village, but each recalled the tree differently. One said the beautiful flowers were single, while the other was sure they were doubles. So they had their carriage turned around and upon seeing it again, were pleased to discover they were both right. ‘Mikuruma-gaeshi’ is known for its sparse, open branching and very large, single and double pink flowers. The cultivar is only rarely seen on Vancouver streets and remaining specimens are unfortunately mostly disfigured with disease.
‘Ojochin’ (large lantern). This is an old (late 1600s) Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) cultivar noted or its large, somewhat inflated, lantern-like flower buds and leaves with bristle-tipped marginal teeth. Buds open lazily to display drooping five-petaled flowers of the lightest pink. The flowers eventually fade in colour and flatten out to 5.5 or 6 cm across. Extra petaloids (incomplete petals) can be seen in some flowers and there are always a few leaves that have rounded tips, rather than the long-pointed tips of the typical cherry tree leaf. Only a single specimen of this cultivar—an older tree at the Japanese Memorial in Stanley Park— has been identified in the Vancouver area.
‘Okame’. A hybrid of the diminutive Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa) and the red-flowered Taiwan cherry (P. campanulata) with a tight rounded crown, produced in the UK around 1950 by Collingwood Ingram. Large clusters of small, red-backed, bright pink flowers are produced in March all along the slender branches. This cultivar is normally a large shrub or small tree, and often shows varying degrees of graft incompatibility when grown on mazzard (P. avium) rootstock, as is typical of nursery-grown trees.
Oshima-zakura (Oshima cherry). Hailing primarily from the volcanic islands around Oshima Island and the Tokyo area, this wild tree—botanically, Prunus speciosa—is thought to be a parent of a number of Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherries), in particular, those known for white, fragrant flowers. The Oshima-zakura trees planted in Vancouver are typically umbrella-shaped, with pure white, five-petaled flowers that smell deliciously of almonds. The broad leaves are bright green and have hair-like tips on the marginal teeth.
O-yama-zakura (Prunus sargentii). The “big mountain cherry” is a robust, cold-hardy species native to northern Japan. Seedlings typically produce narrow, upright stems in youth, but with age, the crown eventually broadens to form a spreading, rounded canopy of branches. Flower buds are conspicuously sticky and burst open in late March or early April with small umbels of light pink to bright salmon pink flowers. The comparatively broad leaves unfold bronze-purple after flowering, becoming dark green above and noticeably lighter below. Autumn colour is orange or red. Few specimens of O-yama-zakura are grown outside of large parks or botanical gardens locally.
‘Pandora’ This modern English hybrid of the pink higan (spring) cherry (Prunus × subhirtella ‘Rosea’ ) and Yoshino cherry (P. × yedoensis) was developed in 1939. It has a neat crown of upright branches. The smallish, soft pink flowers are composed of five narrow, notched petals, suffused deeper pink at the tips. The flowers open flat, showing gaps between the petals.
‘Pink Perfection’. An increasingly uncommon cherry in Vancouver, ‘Pink Perfection’ has a small, spreading, umbrella-shaped crown, and large, luxurient, typically two-toned flowers—pink with white inner petals—often with a pair of phylloid (leafy) styles at the centre of each bloom. ‘Pink Perfection’ is a chance seedling of ‘Shogetsu’ that arose around 1935 at a nursery in southern England. ‘Kanzan’ is the probable pollen parent, as ‘Pink Perfection’ is somewhat intermediate between the two in both appearance and behaviour. Trees are unfortunately not very robust and because of disease, tend to look unkempt with significant branch dieback most years; however, this may be due in part to graft incompatability, where the cultivar is grafted on mazzard (P. avium) rootstock.
‘Rancho’ (Prunus sargentii ‘Rancho’). This narrow, vase-shaped cultivar is a selection of the Japanese O-yama-zakura (big mountain cherry). Because of its narrow crown profile ‘Rancho’ is commonly planted alongside busy arterial roads through commercial areas, where overhead space is limited. Bright pink, five-petaled flowers emerge from sticky buds in late March or early April and open to about 3.5 cm in diameter. The comparatively broad leaves unfold bronze-purple after flowering, becoming dark green above and noticeably lighter below. Autumn colour is orange or red.
Sargentii hybrid (hill cherry). Mystery trees, widely planted by the City of Vancouver some 35 years ago, around, particularly, the northeast side of Vancouver. The trees exhibit the vigor, comparatively stout twigs, sticky bud scales, corymbose inflorescences and whitish leaf backs of P. sargentii. However, the leaves are doubly serrate and endowed with sizable teeth, and the 4-cm-wide flowers are pale pink to milk white—characteristics suggestive of hybridization with other Japanese cherry species.
Schmitt Cherry (Prunus × schmittii). This distinctive, stiffly upright, pink-flowered hybrid cherry (P. avium × P. canescens) is noted for its peeling stems and densely hairy leaves. The young stems of Schmitt cherry display lustrous bark that alternates with prominent, closely set, horizontal lenticels. Later, the bark peels or shreds off in ragged, narrow strips. Older stems are ringed by widening tiers of lenticels, which eventually obscure the glossy bark. The tiny shell-pink flowers are lovely when viewed up close, the inrolled petals giving the flowers a star-like form.
‘Sendai-shidare’ (weeping Sendai cherry). A small Sato-zakura (village cherry), often no more than a shrub, named for the Sendai region of coastal northern Honshu, Japan, where it presumably originated. ‘Sendai-shidare’produces horizontal branches that droop at the tips. The April-borne, fragrant flowers hang on short, glabrous (hairless) pedicels and have five white petals that are backed by long, narrow sepals. This small cherry is seldom encountered in public plantings.
Shidare-zakura (Prunus pendula). The common weeping form of the wild ito-zakura (Japanese thread cherry). Flowers are very pale pink to almost pure white, about 2 cm across, opening flat, borne in March or early April on thin, cascading branches. The flower buds show the tip of the pistil sticking out beyond the closed petals, and there is an obvious constriction between the somewhat bulbous ovary and sepals. Trees can grow slowly to 10 m (33 ft) in height. Shidare-zakura is mostly only represented in older plantings, and in leaf and crown habit, plants are indistinguishable from the more commonly planted cultivar, ‘Beni-shidare’.
‘Shiro-fugen’ (white Buddha). A popular May-flowering Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) known from the 15th century, ‘Shiro-fugen’ is also known as ‘Fugenzo’. Both names commemorate the Bodhisattva Fugen who is often depicted riding atop a white elephant. The long phylloid (leafy) pistils commonly found in the centres of most flowers are reminiscent of elephant trunks. The double blossoms emerge from pink buds at the same time as the leaves are unfolding bronze-purple. When fully open, the flowers are nearly pure white, and contrast with the dark foliage. The leaves eventually turn green (more quickly with warmer temperatures) and the flowers gradually become increasingly pink before eventually falling. The cultivar is easily distinguished by its strong, tabular crown, and copiously produced, late, but exceptionally long-lasting flowers, which hang elegantly on long pedicels.
‘Shirotae’ (Mount Fuji cherry). This very broad-spreading Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) usually blooms in mid April when the fresh green leaves are nearly fully developed. Borne profusely on long stalks, the large, pure white, double flowers are deliciously fragrant. The broad, attractive leaves are bright green and have hair-like tips on the marginal teeth. Unfortunately, its wide-spreading branches are prone to injury in tight spaces, and this renders ‘Shirotae’ somewhat disease prone.
‘Shogetsu’ (moonlight on pine trees). A Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) with a spreading, rounded crown and elegant, very long-stalked flowers composed of the lightest pink, fringed petals that burst open in May. The flowers are always accompanied by the leaves, which emerge green some weeks earlier. ‘Shogetsu’ is superficially similar to ‘Shiro-fugen’, once that cultivar reaches its green-leaf stage, but ‘Shogetsu’ is always smaller growing and less horizontally branched, with much frillier petals. Unfortunately, many older grafted plants around Vancouver are badly disfigured because of susceptibility to disease when grafted on mazzard (P. avium) rootstock.
‘Shosar’ A Collingwood Ingram hybrid cherry of the shrubby Fuji cherry (Prunusincisa), the tender, red-flowered Taiwan cherry (P. campanulata), and the robust, cold-hardy, O-yama-zakura (P. sargentii). Trees are noted for their vigorous upright habit and single pink flowers in late March or early April before leaf emergence. Both the pedicels (flower stalks) and calyces backing the petals are dark red and lend extra depth to the flower colour. Autumn leaf color is orange or red. This cultivar is rare—the only significant planting yet identified locally is in Richmond.
‘Shujaku’ (red fire bird), occasionally spelled Suzaku. A distinctive, late blooming Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) with an open crown of spreading branches. The lively, shell-pink flowers emerge just before or at the same time as the leaves and hang below the branches in generous clusters on long pedicels (shorter in prolonged cool weather). Individual flowers are somewhat bell-shaped, about 4 cm in diameter and have between five and ten petals, including petaloids (incomplete petals). The flowers on this cultivar fade to light pink, but then become stained red in the centre before falling. In Japanese mythology, Shujaku is the phoenix-like bird who guarded the southern sky. This cultivar is known from about 1830 and is exceedingly rare in the Vancouver area.
‘Snofozam’ (Snow Fountains®). An increasingly common (residentially speaking) small weeping cherry with pendulous branches. Similar to the early flowering ito-zakura (Japanese thread cherries) (Prunus pendula), this plant was discovered by a midwestern American nursery and introduced in 1985. ‘Snofozam’ is likely is an open-pollinated seedling of P. pendula. The pure white, five-petaled flowers of ‘Snofozam’ are copiously produced on leafless stems in March and the dark green, serrated leaves turn yellow and orange in autumn.
‘Snow Goose’. A 1970 Dutch hybrid of Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa) and Japanese hill cherry (P. spontanea), the same parents as in the 1928 English hybrid ‘Umineko’. Not as common as ‘Umineko’ on Vancouver streets, but presently more commonly commercially available. The two cultivars (which may not actually be distinguishable) bloom early in April with pure white flowers backed by bright green calyces.
‘Somei-yoshino’ (Prunus × yedoensis ‘Somei-yoshino’) (Yoshino cherry). An uncommon tree in Vancouver, except in a few parks and on selected streets, such as the Cambie Heritage Boulevard, and at UBC, where it is relatively common. The seed parent of ‘Akebono’ to which it closely resembles, but its late March or early April flowers are slightly smaller and paler upon emergence. ‘Somei-yoshino’ is the famous “Tokyo cherry” of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivals in Japan. Older specimens of Yoshino cherry are distinctively umbrella shaped, with few sturdy branches.
‘Spire’ (= ‘Hillier Spire’). This April-flowering hybrid cherry, reputed to be a hybrid of O-yama-zakura (Prunus sargentii) and Fuji cherry (P. incisa) is an upright grower, narrow at first, then becoming vase-shaped. The single flowers are faintly pink and produced against coppery red emerging foliage, which often turns red in autumn. Unfortunately very susceptible to brown rot and often disfigured by that disease, so generally no longer planted in the Vancouver area.
Star Cherry (Prunus pendula var. ascendens ‘Stellata’) This small cherry was found as a chance seedling in the 1930s in San Fransisco’s Golden Gate Park Tea Garden. The inrolled petals give the comparatively large pink flowers their “star quality,” but like other Prunus pendula var. ascendens cultivars and hybrids, it frequently suffers from brown rot of the flowers and shoot tips. There is a fine group at the Vancouver Museum and Planetarium in Vanier Park. It is otherwise a rare cultivar in Vancouver.
‘Tai Haku’ (great white cherry). A strong-growing Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) with an upright spreading habit. The single white flowers are exceptionally large, and held on long, stiff pedicels (flower stalks), usually emerging in mid-April when the coppery new foliage has just started to unfold. Under optimal conditions this cherry forms a large, open branched tree of great beauty. The flowering cherry aficionado, Collingwood Ingram, repatriated this ancient cultivar to Japan after it was discovered that it had been lost to cultivation there. He was hailed as a hero as a result.
‘Takasago’ (Naden cherry). An unusual and exceptionally beautiful cultivar from the mid 18th century Japan. The spreading crown of this Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry), which is also known locally as Prunus × sieboldii, is composed of few long branches with numerous, short side branches from which the beautiful, semi-double, 3.5 to 4 cm diameter, apple-blossom flowers emerge in early to mid-April. This cherry’s tight, clustered flowers unfortunately also increase its susceptibility to disease, and most specimens in Vancouver are badly disfigured. Naden cherry is easily recognized because there are frequently six or more sepals backing each flower, and all developing stems, stalks and leaves are clothed in short, soft hairs.
‘Taki-nioi’ (incense waterfall). An exceptionally rare Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) that typically forms an irregular, spreading crown with drooping outer branches. Locally, this cultivar is known only from Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC. The flowers have five ragged-edged petals and are pure white, contrasting well with the emerging purple-bronze foliage in mid- to late-April. The almond scent of the flowers is sublime.
‘Ukon’ (turmeric). This vigorous Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) has flowers of an unusual yellowish colour. The name alludes to the fact that turmeric (ukon in Japanese) stains yellow whatever it touches. ‘Ukon’ is usually narrow in youth, but eventually forms a broad, rounded crown. It has a robust constitution, large, double flowers in late April and dull coppery leaves that change to deep green before turning orange and red in autumn. The interesting flowers, disease resistance and overall adaptability are some of the reasons why this cultivar is so common on Vancouver’s streets. It has been popular since before 1800 in Japan.
‘Umineko’ (seagull). This little-known cultivar is a modern hybrid of two Japanese species—the shrubby Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa) and the Japanese hill cherry (P. spontanea) made by the renowned English cherry breeder, Collingwood Ingram. ‘Umineko’ produces masses of beautiful, five-petaled, pure white flowers (like a seagull's wing) in mid April. Trees are narrow and vase-shaped in youth, but gradually open to form a round-headed crown with age. Thirty years ago, ‘Umineko’ was frequently planted on Vancouver's east side, in parks and on boulevards, but it is now seldom available in commerce.
‘Washi-no-o’ (eagle's tale). An ancient Sato Zakura (Japanese village cherry) known since the 17th century for its fragrant, widely opening, pure white flowers with large, ragged-edged petals (hence the evocative name). Age and disease have taken their toll on this rare cherry, and fewer and fewer specimens now remain on Vancouver's streets.
‘Whitcomb’ (Prunus × subhirtella ‘Whitcomb’). This cultivar of the Japanese higan (spring) cherry blooms reliably in February or March with vivid purple-pink flowers. More robust than ‘Autumnalis’, Whitcomb cherry forms a similar crown with numerous twiggy branches and is similarly disease prone. Named for Seattle gardener David Whitcomb (1879-1966) and common throughout the Pacific Northwest.
‘Yae-beni-shidare’. ‘Yae-beni-shidare’ is a double-flowered form of the ito-zakura (Japanese thread cherry) (Prunus pendula), with flowers in March or April that resemble, as they open, tiny, pendulous pink roses. The habit of this tree is umbrella-like and is easily recognized by the long lasting, soft pink, inflated blooms and small stature. The usual height and spread is about 5 m × 5 m (16 ft). Also known as Prunus × subhirtella ‘Pleno-rosea’. Autumn colour is yellow, orange and red.
Yama-zakura (hill cherry). A variable, wide ranging Japanese species—botanically, Prunus serrulata var. spontanea—that has been identified as planted in only one or two Vancouver city parks. Plants are typically broad-spreading to somewhat umbrella-shaped with light pink to white flowers that emerge in late March or early April. The smallish, 2- to 3-cm wide flowers are accompanied by expanded bright red bud scales, which, together with the coppery emerging foliage, add a pink blush to trees in flower. The slender twigs and winter buds, small flowers, finely serrated leaf margins and light green leaf undersides help distinguish this species.
‘Yokihi’. A Sato-zakura (Japanese village cherry) known from before 1700 from Nara, Japan. This compact, umbrella-shaped tree is rare in Vancouver, but when in bloom, entirely beguiling (like its namesake, a woman of famed beauty from the Chinese Imperial Court). The flowers are fully double and similar to ‘Ito-kukuri’ in their tightly clustered habit and subtle pink-and-ivory colouring, but the individual flowers are smaller, about 4 cm diameter, with the heart of each blossom more open and often reddening before falling.
Thanks to Douglas Justice of UBC Botanical Garden for the cherry tree descriptions and to cherry scout Mariko Izaki for the pronunciations. And thanks to all the official and unofficial cherry scouts who have posted photos on our forums, from which the photos here were selected.
Hillier, H.G., P.H.B. Gardener and Roy Lancaster. 1991. Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs, 6th ed. Newton Abbot, England.
Jacobson, A.L. 1996. North American Landscape Trees. Ten Speed Press, Seattle, Washington.
Kuitert, W. 1999. Japanese Flowering Cherries, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon. Lord, A. (ed.) 2003. RHS Plant Finder. 2003-2004. Dorling Kindersley, London
We have 71 guests online