Know Your Trees: Cherries

This week GM is returning to a series that he thought he had just about exhausted: Know Your Trees. Somehow he had forgotten to do cherries! Now’s the time to correct!

Most residents of DC don’t need much information of cherries, it is true. But many just group cherries into one large group, when several distinct varieties dot our city.

The most famous cherry and the one that gets the most attention is the Yoshino cherry. The Tidal Basin is ringed by these beautiful specimens, which turn a lovely pinkish white at peak. Famously, they were originally the gift from Tokyo to Washington in 1912.

Yoshino cherries can grow quite large for a flowering tree. They can grow over forty feet tall. Dumbarton Oaks has one of the best large Yoshino cherry groves in the city. Over the past week (and maybe even as late as today) visitors have come, sprawled on the grass, and luxuriated in the gentle snowfall of spent blossoms.

But as Yoshino blossoms end, another popular specimen takes over: Kwanzan cherries. At peak (and we’re basically at peak right now) these trees look like they’re covered in a thousand high school prom corsages:

The last large category of cherries you’ll find around DC is weeping cherries. There are many varieties of cherries that fit in that category, though. First there are Higan cherries, which tend to bloom on the early side. And more popular are the pendula varieties.

But the one thing that all these flowering cherries have in common is that they don’t really produce cherries. At least not the edible kind we know. Those cherries mostly come from bing cherry trees from the pacific northwest.


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