Cherry Blossom Viewing Tip: Enjoy Cherry Trees in your Neighbourhood

Cherry blossom season has officially started in Vancouver. Akebono are now in full bloom, along with Pandora, Beni-shidare, Afterglow, and much more.

We understand it could be tempting to go to your favourite cherry blossom viewing spot. However, because of COVID-19 and the need to respect physical distancing and avoid gathering, it would be wise to consider, instead, enjoying a walk under cherry trees in your own neighbourhood.

With 40,000 cherry trees in the city, there’s plenty to see.

Here’s what I saw during a neighbourhood walk in Burnaby.

Akebono cherry trees at Cliff (corner Curtis):


A small Beni-shidare that hasn’t been added to the VCBF map yet.

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Afterglow cherry trees at Cliff and Curtis.  The bright pink flowers are magnificent!



There are 40,000 cherry trees planted in residential streets.  We’re so lucky to have access to these trees.

Have a look at the VCBF neigjbourhood maps to find trees near you.

Enjoy cherry trees in your neighbourhood. Stay safe and maintain physical distancing.


Akebono skyline at 5th and Lillooet

Don’t hesitate to go cherry blossom viewing, even on a cloudy day, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that cherry blossoms won’t wait. When it’s time for the petals to fall, you want to be there. Rain or shine, it will still be spectacular.

There are two rows of akebono cherry trees at 5th avenue and Lillooet. A bonus feature is that you get the highrises of Burnaby’s Brentwood area in the background.

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This location is very close to 6th and Slocan where you’ll find akebono forming an archway over the street, so you should visit both.

Visit the Festival Neighbourhood maps to see what’s blooming in your area.

Happy cherry blossom viewing!



Stellata at Queen Elizabeth Park


Star cherry blossoms (“Stellata”) are open near the duck pond at Queen Elizabeth park.


You can recognize Stellata cherry blossoms by the petals that are rolling to form soft points (just like a star!)


Because the petals are rolling in,  the blossoms have a triangular shape when viewed from the side.  Be careful not to mistake them for Whitcomb or Okame… which both come earlier in the season).


The star cherry is a little bit off the path and there are only two branches blooming, so it would be easy to miss.  To find the star cherry, follow these instructions:

  • go around the duck pond
  • walk past the 4 white Uminko cherry trees
  • continue walking until you reach the three small yae-beni-shidare (weeping cherry trees)
  • turn left and walk about 20 meters. The star cherry is in the corner, in the shade, next to the path.


If you’ve never seen a stellata, visit this location in the next week.

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To learn more about the star cherry (and 53 other varieties of cherry trees in Vancouver), check out Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver.


Umineko cherry trees at Queen Elizabeth park


These Umineko cherry tress  provide a nice spot for hanami picnic at the Queen Elizabeth park’s duck pond.



From the top of the hill, you get a beautiful view of downtown Vancouver.


There are lots of blossoms on the trees. Cherry petals are just starting to fall.


Umineko means “Seagull”, possibly because the edges of the white petals are round, like the wings of a seagull.


The centre of the Umineko cherry blossoms will turn red before they fall.


The branches offer a mix of fresh blossoms and older blossoms with red centre.


In late afternoon, the sun goes through the blossoms.

Visit that location in the next week to have a hanami picnic under these beautiful Umineko trees


To learn more about Umineko cherry trees, check out Ornamental cherries in Vancouver.


Rancho at Pacific Centre (Georgia/Howe)



There are seven Rancho cherry trees outside Pacific Centre (Georgia/Howe) in Downtown Vancouver.



The blossoms are quite large and bright pink.



The leaves are reddinsh brown (with a touch of green) and coming out with the flowers.



It looks like there are only three flowers coming out of each bud.


Good spot for hanami picnic? There are circular benches around each cherry tree, as well as metal benches nearby. However, it’s  a busy location, with people coming in and ouf of the shopping mall. Inside the atrium at Pacific Center, there are lots of seats facing the trees, so it’s a good place to do your cherry blossom viewing indoors or to have a picnic inside on a rainy day.



Downsides: There are Christmas lights are wrapped around the trunk and branches, and they will probably be visible in your pics. On the other hand, this might be a fun  location to try to take pics of cherry blossoms by night.


Photo tips: try taking pictures of the cherry blossoms with the Georgia Hotel sign, the clock tower, the round lampshades, or against the windows of skyscrapers. This is a fun location for photographers.


The Rancho flowers are big, bright pink and and really cute.  The trees are small, but they are worth a visit, especially if you’ve never seen a Rancho cherry tree (you’ll get to see seven at this location).


Check out our neighborhood maps to find Rancho cherry trees in your area.

Cherry Scouts Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

How to use the Neighborhood Maps

Using the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Neighborhood maps for the first time can be intimidating.  Here are some tips.


Let’s say you want to go cherry blossom viewing in Vancouver and want to know which cherry trees are blooming now in your neighborhood:

  • Go to:  The map will open, showing trees that are blooming now.
  • Click on Neighborhood to see which trees are blooming in your neighborhood.
  • Select a location or a type of tree (cultivar). A bubble with a photo of the tree and location will pop up on the map.
  • Click on See forum postings. You’ll be directed to the UBC Forum where you can find more information and pictures about the tree.

When I saw on the map that there was an Okame cherry tree blooming in my neighborhood – and I had never seen and Okame cherry tree before – I took my bike and immediately went to visit this beautiful tree.

Discover new types of cherry trees

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Perhaps you would like to see an Accolade,  or a A Whitcomb? The neighborhood map can help you find various types of cherry trees:

  • Click on Cultivars to discover a new type of cherry trees and see its location.

There are 54 varieties of cherry blossoms in Vancouver. They’re all worth a visit. Try to discover at least 5 different cherry trees every spring. You’ll be an expert in no time!


Still think the neighborhood maps are too complicated?  Visit our Blooming Now page to keep up-to-date with what’s blooming in Vancouver and see a list of of the festival’s favorites that are currently in bloom.  It’s that easy!  No maps involved!



Okame cherry tree (Charles street/Fell)


This Okame cherry tree,  located on Charles Street (corner Fell) in Burnaby North, has dark pink – almost red – flowers. It would be easy to mistake it for a Whitcomb cherry tree or a plum tree.

As always, to identify a cherry tree, you have to get closer…


The main characteristics of the Okame is that the flowers have a long calyx tube.


The centre of the Okame cherry blossom is red, and red “veins” run through the petals.

The petals open wide, and far apart, all around the sepals (the “star” shape at the centre).


The red “heart” might be hard to see on young flowers that have not yet open. However, on these young blossoms, the long calyx would be a clue to identify them as Okame cherry blossoms.


The small slit at the end of each petals is clearly visible. This is a clue, along with the horizontal bars on the trunk, that these are, indeed, cherry blossoms (and not plum).


Looking at the fallen blossoms is an excellent way to learn more about cherry trees.


The Okame cherry petals are dark pink and very tiny.  The slit at the end of the petals is clearly visible against the sidewalk.


If you’ve never seen an Okame cherry tree, this location is worth a visit within the next week. There’s plenty of parking in the residential street.


Additional tips

Can’t make it to that location? No problem. Find out where you can find Okame cherries on our neighborhood map.

To identify cherry trees in your neighborhood, buy Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver (your essential guide to cherry blossom viewing in Vancouver).



End of Season

We’re nearing the end of cherry blossom viewing in Vancouver.  Let’s take a look at what’s still blooming in your neighborhood.

Amanogawa cherry blossoms
The Amanogawa cherry blossoms are turning pink and leaves are growing.


Shogetsu cherry blossom
The leaves of the Shogetsu cherry trees are still a bright green, but the blossoms are slowly turning pink.


Shirofugen red bud scales
Shirofugen cherry blossoms are turning pink. They’re the last ones to bloom in Vancouver. They’re tough and will probably be hanging there until June.


Let’s enjoy these late-blooming cherry blossoms.

To find out where Amanogawa, Shogetsu and Shirofugen are blooming in your neighborhood, check-out the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival cherry viewing map.

Arts & Crafts Haiku Photos Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Sakura Days Japan Fair 2013

weeping higan cherry tree at VanDusen April 7 2013

Sakura Days Japan Fair took place at VanDusen Botanical Garden on April 6-7 2013.  It’s a fun festival that celebrates Japanese culture and cherry blossoms. The weeping cherry tree were so beautiful and there were so many activities. Two days were definitely not enough.

VCBF table at Sakura Days Japan Fair April 7 2013

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival table.

Sakura Days Japan Fair April 7 2013 vendors

Vendors booths.

Ikebana at Sakura Days April 7 2013

Ikebana workshop.

Sakura paper art Sakura April 72013

Paper art workshop.

Sakura Days Calligraphy Sakura April 72013

Live calligraphy (featuring the character for sakura, cherry blossoms) by Essence of Shodo.

Tree talk and walk with Ann Eng at VanDusen during Sakura Days Japan Fair 2013

Tree talk and walk with Anne Eng.

Haiku Stone at VanDusen Garden during Sakura Days Japan Fair April 7 2013

Haiku Rock (in the cherry grove).

Anime Revolution at Sakura Days Japan Fair April 7 2013

Anime Revolution.

Cherry blossom viewing during Sakura Days Japan Fair April 7 2013

Cherry blossom viewing.


Cherry tree talk and walk at VanDusen

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

On April 7 2013, I joined the cherry talk and walk at the VanDusen botanical garden. Our guide Anne Eng has been a cherry scout for many years and is also a volunteer at the garden.

First, we visited the beni shidare trees on the Great Lawn.

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

This is the view of fifteen hundred years” said Anne.  In Japan, cherry trees were growing on hillsides. People thought they were beautiful so  they uprooted the trees and brought them down closer to civilization. The VanDusen garden replicated the original location by planting the cherry trees on a hill.

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

The garden has several weeping higan cherry trees which are known as beni shidare (beni means “pink”, and shidare means “weeping”).

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

Did you know? Cherry trees (prunus) are members of the rose family.

Bark of a Japanese flowering cherry tree

There are two major characteristics of cherry trees:

1)     Lenticels ( “Cherry bars, stop the car!”)

If you are not sure if the trees blooming on your street are plum or cherry trees, look at the trunk.  Cherry trees have horizontal lines on the bark called “lenticels”.  (Lenticels allow gas exchange between the air and the internal tissues).

All cherry trees have lenticels“, said Anne, “but not all trees with lenticels are cherry trees.”


2)      Cherry blossoms grow in clusters called “umbels”. An umbel is when more than one flower comes out of the bud and each flower is at the end of a long stalk (like in this picture).

Great White Cherry at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

I was very impressed by the Great White Cherry, or prunus “Taihaku” (seen above):

1)      it has big white blossoms (5 cm)

2)      and copper color leaves (you can see the copper at the tip of the leaves in this picture)

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

On the rhododendron walk, we saw a huge somei-yoshino which is the original cherry tree from Japan.

A man from Georgia took a somei-yoshino tree back to his town, donated lots of them, and every year they have the International Cherry festival in this small town in Georgia, in March.

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

In Japan, they planted samples of somei-yoshino trees in specific location across the country. Every spring, they observe these trees. When the cherry tree has six blossoms, they declare that cherry season has begun and they report it on the news,  from the south to the north. It’s called the Cherry Wave.

Chrystanthemum cherry tree at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

The Chrysanthemum cherry tree was one of my favorite cherry trees in the garden.

Snow Fountain weeping cherry tree at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

Snow Fountain.  The name is so pretty.

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

These are the trees of your future” said Anne, when we visited the cherry trees that are not yet in bloom. The Kanzan and  Shirofugan  should be blooming in two weeks. Kanzan are the most planted cherry trees in Vancouver along with Akebono (Akebono means “daybreak”).

Shirofugan and Shigetsu will be the last cherry trees to bloom in the garden (Shirofugan blossoms grow pink, turn white, then turn pink again). So keep your eyes open.

Did you know? There are several more tree talks and walks (some them focusing on cherry trees) scheduled this month for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.