Characteristics of Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus × yedoensis) in the Wild

Prunus yedoensis
Yoshino Cherry or Somei Yoshino (Prunus × yedoensis) is a natural hybrid cherry tree between Oshima zakura (Prunus speciosa) as the mother tree and Edo higan (Prunus itosakura) as the mother.

Yoshino Cherry is believed to be endemic to the Yoshino District, Nara. In 1900, Yorinaga Fujino named Somei-yoshino after a famous cultivation site, the village of Somei (now Toshima).

In 190, Yoshino Cherry was given the scientific name Prunus yedoensis by Jinzō Matsumura. However, after Ernest Henry Wilson suggested Yoshino Cherry was a hybrid between Prunus subhirtella var. ascendens and Prunus lannesiana in 1916, Yoshino Cherry was later called Prunus × yedoensis.

The original Korean cherry is called the King cherry which is given the scientific name Prunus yedoensis var. nudiflora by the German botanist Bernhard Adalbert Emil Koehne in 1912 continued to be called Prunus yedoensis.

The Yoshino cherry does not have a scientific cultivar name because it is the original cultivar of the Prunus × yedoensis hybrid species. The new name,’Somei-yoshino’ was proposed according to other Prunus × yedoensis cultivars.


The Yoshino cherry was introduced to Europe and North America in 1902.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, DC, commemorating the 1912 gift of a Japanese cherry tree from Tokyo to the city of Washington. They are planted in the Tidal Basin garden.

Several species of the 2,000 Japanese cherry trees given to Toronto residents by Tokyo residents in 1959 were planted in High Park.

Pilgrim Hill in New York City’s Central Park is famous for its grove of Yoshino cherry trees that bloom pale when they bloom in spring.

The Yoshino Cherry tree is now one of the most popular cultivated cherry blossoms and is also widely grown in temperate climates around the world.


Characteristics of Yoshino Cherry Leaf

Prunus yedoensis Leaf
Source: Garin

The leaves are deciduous, grow alternately, 12-15 cm long and 5-7 cm wide, with jagged edges, often bronze when emerging, and turning dark green in summer.


Characteristics of Yoshino Cherry Flower

Prunus yedoensis Flower
Source: Garin

The Yoshino Cherry blossoms are fragrant, 3-3.5 cm in diameter, with five white or pale pink petals. The flowers grow in clusters of five or six together and are in full bloom in summer.


Characteristics of Yoshino Cherry Fruit

Prunus yedoensis Fruit
Source: Garin

The berries are small cherry-shaped, contain seeds 8-10 mm in size, and are an important food source for many birds and small mammals.

Although the Yoshino Cherry fruit contains a little flesh, it contains a lot of deep red juice that can stain clothes, and has a slightly sweet taste.


Characteristics of Yoshino Cherry Tree

Prunus yedoensis Tree
Source: Crimmins

The Yoshino Cherry grows as a small to a medium deciduous tree. In the wild, the trees can grow to 12-13 meters (rarely 15 meters) as adults. It does well in hardiness zones 5-8 and thrives in full sun and moist but well-drained soil.

Many cultivars have been selected as ornamental trees for home yards and gardens, for example: Akebono, Ivensii, and Shidare Yoshino. Some cultivars can even grow in cool tropical climates like the one in Cibodas Sakura Park.


This tree is easily propagated by grafting.


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