The New York Botanical Garden




Flowering Cherries photographed at the New York Botanical Garden during April.

There are at least 7 ways to learn to recognize these flowering cherries at the Garden.

1. Phenology: The Okame cherry always flowers before the Yoshino which flowers before the Kanzan.

Whether it’s an early spring or a late spring, the sequence of cherries usually stays the same.

2. Habit: A few cherries, but by no means all, have a distinctive growth habit. The weeping cherry is an example.

3. Petal number: Count the petals and you’ll find the flowering cherries fall into 3 basic groups – those with 5 petals, those with 10-12 or so petals, and those with more than 20 petals.

4. Flower texture.  Some cherries have very thin petals, like the autumn cherry, while others, like the shirotae have thick almost sheet-like petals.

5. Flower color change: Some cherries have flowers that change color as the flowers age. Shiro-fugen, for example, starts out white and becomes pink (and certainly so once the flowers fall).

6. Flower fall: Some cherries lose their petals one at a time; others drop their flowers essentially intact.

7. Leaf edge and leaf color: The leaves of flowering cherries can often be divided into two groups – one group has edges appearing awl-toothed. Some cherries have leaves that are red rather than green when they’re young.

The Okame is the first of the springtime cherries to flower at the Garden. The Autumn cherry usually flowers in December-January, and then again in the spring. The Hally Jolivette typically flowers in the spring but sometimes overwinter. The Prunus mume (Japanese apricot or Chinese plum) flowers anytime from mid-March to early April in the Ladies’ Border. The Okame usually flowers by the vernal equinox and begins the parade of the flowering cherries at the Garden.