What Is The Difference Between A Cherry Blossom And A Cherry Tree? (2022)

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What Is The Difference Between A Cherry Blossom And A Cherry Tree? If someone said that they had a cherry tree on their property, you might assume that they are picking fruit off the tree after it produced a blossom. Based on this it would be easy to assume that cherry blossom trees and cherry trees are the same thing but are they really?

Cherry Blossom Trees are different from cherry trees. The primary difference is that cherry blossoms are ornamental and produce beautiful blooms that are highly valued for their appearance but do not produce fruit. Cherry trees on the other hand have do produce fruit but they also produce flowers though, the flower display is not as vibrant. These edible varieties can be divided up into sweet types that can be eaten directly from the tree and sour types which are usually used for baking.

The cherry tree and the cherry blossom tree are both members of the same genus, Prunus, which also includes other stone fruit such as plums, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Both types of cherry trees are widespread in the Northern Hemisphere in places such as China, Korea, the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, and Europe.

However, the cherry blossom trees are most widely associated with Japan, who conduct a nationwide celebration during the blooming season in late March and April. Typically, the flowering period only lasts 2 weeks, however, due to the climatic variations within the country, the precise timing of the celebrations varies by a few weeks in different parts of the country.

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During this period friends and families meet in parks and picnic underneath the trees to celebrate the transient beauty of the flowers as a sign of the warmer weather ahead. This has been a tradition for over 1000 years in Japan with records showing that cherry blossom festivals, which is calledHanami in Japan became popular in the Heian Period which stretched from 794 to 1185. It was popularised when members of the Imperial court when they started hosting feasts under the trees.

(Video) How to tell the difference between Cherryblossoms and Plum blossoms

About Cherry Blossum Trees

The cherry blossom tree, which is known as the Sakura in Japan, refers to just 7 different species. However, from these 7 species, there have been over 300 hundred different cultivars and hybrid varieties developed. These trees come in a range of sizes. However, they are most commonly divided up into 4 major groups based on the number of petals that they have. These groups are;

  • Single Flower varieties that feature 5 to 8 petals per flowers.
  • Semi-double flower varieties that typically have 10 to 20 petals per flower
  • Double Flower varieties that contain 25 to 50 petals per flower.
  • The Chrysanthemum flowers that typically have 100 petals per flower however there are varieties that have upto 300 petals per flowers.

In Japan, the most popular varieties are the single-flowered varieties, such as Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis) which only has 5 petals per flower. These types of plants are generally considered to be more elegant plants by the Japanese which is a sentiment I personally share. An image of this variety is shown below.

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To show you what is meant by the elegance of fewer petals below is a photo of a relatively popular variety of a double bloom called Kanzan which has many more petals on each flower.

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In terms of the color of the blossoms, the most common colors are white to light pink. However, many varieties start with a dark pink bud that lightens as they open up to a pale pink color. As they open up many of the varieties will produce a fragrant scent, however, when the weather is cold the fragrance reduces significantly.

As mentioned earlier in the article cherry generally bloom in the spring and will typically last only 2 to 3 weeks in places like Japan however, in warmer climates like the UK the blooming period is a little longer, in some cases extending to 6 weeks or so.

The blooming period does vary as with the particular variety being grown. Varieties such as Yoshino are an early spring bloomer whereas ‘Kazan’ is a late bloomer that will appear in the later parts of spring. In addition, the blooms produce cherry blossoms that provide interest in the garden in spring they also produce a wonderful autumn color from their foliage which most commonly turns to a golden yellow and sometimes red color depending upon the variety.

(Video) Differences Between Cherry Blossoms and Plum Blossoms - Flowers of Japan

Cherry trees are a popular plant in home gardens because they are relatively small trees that require minimal care. Cherry trees are tolerant of a wide range of soil types and generally don’t need to be water a great deal once established. They are suitable for growing in zones 4 to 9 in most cases and really only need to be pruned occasionally to ensure that there is adequate air circulation to reduce the chances of fungal disease.

Fungal disease can appear in the form is powdery mildew, leaf spot, or leaf or blossom wilt. Should you encounter problems most diseases can be remedied with an application of a fungicide.

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Cherry Fruit Trees

Fruiting cherry trees can be largely divided into 2 major groups, sweet cherry, and sour cherry which are suitable for growing in zones 3 to 10. However, sour cherry varieties are more cold-tolerant than Sweet Cherry varieties. The reason for this is that they flower later which limits the damage that can occur as a result of late frosts. The extent of damage can be reduced by providing frost protection. To read more about the temperatures that can be tolerated by the trees at different stages of bud and flower development click here.

The other limiting factor for growing fruiting Cherry trees is the need to be exposed to a period of cold in order for them to fruit successfully. The amount of time, which is sometimes referred to as chill hours varies depending upon the particular cultivar, which is shown in the table below.

ChillRatingChillHoursExamples Of Varieties
Low300‐500Brooks
low‐Moderate500‐750Lapins
Moderate‐high750‐1000Lapins, Sweetheart
High1000‐1500Sweetheart, Korida

If this seems all too complex don’t worry there are a couple of simple strategies you can use to narrow down the Cherry variety to grow. The first is to simply have a chat with the local plant store. The varieties they are stocking will be suitable for your region, or alternatively, visit your local garden club to find out what varieties are being grown in your local area by other gardeners.

The other way is to estimate the number of chill hours in your location. To estimate this take the average temperature in your coldest month and compare it to the table provided below. With this information, you can look up varieties that fall within the right range for chill hours.

(Video) Hidden Meanings of Cherry Blossoms | Japan Travel

Chill HoursAverage Temperature For Coldest Month
0 19.7°C (67.5°F) – No Chill
300 15.5°C (59.9°F) – Low Chill
330 15.3°C (59.5°F) – Low Chill
450 14.0°C (57.2°F) – Medium Chill
500 13.6°C (56.5°F) – Medium Chill
520 13.1°C (55.6°F) – Medium Chill
600 12.7°C (54.9°F) – Medium to High Chill
800 10.2°C (50.4°F) – High Chill
1100 7.9°C (46.2°F) – High Chill
1250 0.0°C (32.0°F) – Very High Chill

Do You Need More Than One Cherry Tree To Produce Fruit?

The need for a second tree for cross-pollination is dependent upon the variety. Sour cherry varieties are self-pollinated which means that they do not require more than one tree to produce the fruit. However, if you plant a sweet variety a second tree is required in most cases to get fruit but there are some exceptions to this. Varieties such Stella, which I have in my own yard can self-pollinate.

However, even though some varieties are self-pollinated they will still benefit from the presence of a second tree. This is because it generally improves the degree of pollination and therefore increases the yield from the tree.

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How To Plant A Cherry Tree

Cherry trees are best planted in late winter however, this is sometimes not practical if you live in a really cold climate where the ground freezes solid. In these cases, it may necessary to plant the trees a little later in the season.

The benefit of planting at this time of year is that trees can be purchased bare-rooted. Bare-rooted trees are usually significantly cheaper than potted trees. Additionally, it is common for retailers to reduce the price of these trees at the end of the bare-rooted season to help clear stock, so it is possible to pick up a real bargain.

Once the tree has been purchased the next step is to select a location to plant the tree. Ideally, Cherry trees should be planted in a warm sunny location that gets at least 8 hours of sun per day. However, if you are in a situation where your climate is on the border of being either too hot or cold for a particular variety, clever selection of a location can make a really big difference to how the tree performs.

(Video) Difference between cherry, plum and peach blossoms

In cases where you ideally need additional heat select a south-facing location (in the northern hemisphere), that is next to a brick wall as this will reduce the minimum temperature at night that the tree is exposed to. Alternatively, if your conditions are a little warm try to select a location that is shaded in the morning and only gets afternoon temperature. This will ensure that the tree remains in the shade during the coldest part of the day maximizing the tree’s chill hours.

The next important consideration is the quality of the soil, Cherry trees generally do not like wet feet. They prefer a well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter and is slightly acidic, a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 is ideal. To check the soil it is easiest to use a pH meter rather than pH strips and they usually provide a more accurate result. They are also lower in cost than pH kits, click here to see the latest price on Amazon.

Once the soil is prepared dig a hole and position the tree. The depth of the tree should be approximately the same depth as it had been previously been planted at. It is also important to make sure that the graft union of the tree is around 2 inches above the ground to avoid the root-stock-producing suckers.

Once the tree is positioned back-fill the hole with soil, firming the soil in as you go to ensure that there are no air pockets. Water the tree in well and then apply a thick layer of organic mulch, 2 to 4 inches is ideal. At this stage it is important to make sure that the mulch does not come into contact with the trunk, to avoid collar rot.

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Once planted the tree should be pruned aggressively to reduce the size by around half. Ideally, cut above an outward-facing bud to encourage the formation of a vase-like structure that is open and will allow light and air into the center of the tree.

In the following seasons, any inward-facing branches need to be removed to maintain the desired shape. You will also need to reduce the height of the tree aggressively, to do this it is best to cut 1 to 2 ft (30 to 60 cm) above forks in branches to encourage the tree to continue to develop a vase-like structure.

(Video) Fruiting Cherry vs Flowering Cherry Tree

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FAQs

What Is The Difference Between A Cherry Blossom And A Cherry Tree? ›

Essentially, cherry trees and cherry blossoms are different varieties of cherry trees. A standard cherry tree might have more of a focus being put on producing delicious fruit while a cherry blossom places the focus on the flowers. Over the years, people have produced many different varieties of cherry trees.

Are cherry tree and cherry blossom the same? ›

Essentially, both trees are related and produce similar flowers and fruits. However, cherry trees are grown for their tasty fruits, while cherry blossom trees are grown for their beautiful flowers, and neither can compete with the other in the opposing category.

Is cherry blossom a tree? ›

A cherry blossom is the flower from a Prunus tree, of which there are many different kinds.

Can you eat the cherries from a cherry blossom tree? ›

They make fruit.

Though these trees were bred for flowers, not fruit, some do produce small cherries, which appear during the summer. They're too sour for people to eat, but birds like them.

Why cherry blossoms have no cherries? ›

When cherry tree blossoms, but no fruit appears, it's a good indication that poor pollination is occurring. To minimize the distance a bee travels to pollinate, plant your co-pollinizers no farther away than 100 feet (30.5 m.).

How do you identify a cherry blossom tree? ›

How to find cherry blossoms in your neighborhood - YouTube

Do cherry blossom trees smell bad? ›

Although the scent of cherry blossoms is so faint, you almost can't smell it. When pickling the leaves and petals, the coumarin, a chemical found in cherries as well as many other plants, is brought to the surface, giving it a vanilla, floral, earthy, and slightly bitter scent.

Why did Japan give us cherry blossoms? ›

The tradition of celebrating the blooming of cherry trees in Japan is centuries old. The planting of cherry trees in Washington DC originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an important flowering plant.

What is so special about cherry blossoms? ›

Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall. During this season in Japan, people like to have cherry blossom parties with colleagues, friends, and family.

What cherry trees are poisonous? ›

Poisonous wild cherry trees (Prunus serotina) are found throughout North America. Commonly called "black cherry" or "wild cherry," the twigs and leaves of the trees are the source of the poison.

Why is it called cherry blossom? ›

In 1973, the following year of the Japan–China Joint Communiqué, Japan sent cherry trees to China as a symbol of friendship, and they were planted in the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing. After that, the cherry trees were proliferated and planted, and the park became famous for cherry blossoms.

Can dogs eat cherries? ›

Use Extreme Caution With Feeding Dogs Cherries

The main danger of cherries is that their pits, stems, and leaves contain cyanide, which is poisonous and potentially lethal if consumed in high enough quantities. Cherry pits can also get lodged in a dog's digestive tract and cause intestinal blockages.

What is the difference between dogwood and cherry blossom? ›

Dogwoods are generally taller than the flowering cherry tree, with the largest cultivars reaching up to 40 feet tall, if grown in the shade. If grown in full sunlight, the dogwood may only reach 15 to 20 feet. They work well as small shade trees, in borders or near a deck or patio.

Do all cherry trees have pink blossoms? ›

Most varieties produce light pink to white blossoms, but there are also cherry trees with dark pink, yellow or green blossoms. Furthermore, the color of some varieties' cherry blossoms may change while they are in bloom.

Do cherry blossom trees smell good? ›

Although the scent of cherry blossoms is so faint, you almost can't smell it. When pickling the leaves and petals, the coumarin, a chemical found in cherries as well as many other plants, is brought to the surface, giving it a vanilla, floral, earthy, and slightly bitter scent.

Videos

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5. DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHERRY TREE- Sakura blossoms 2021
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