970 Prunus x yedoensisCommon Names: Yoshino cherry, Potomac cherry, Tokyo cherry Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
This is the beautiful flowering cherry that brightens the Washington, DC Tidal Basin, and Macon, Georgia's cherry blossom festival each spring. Yoshino cherry is an especially graceful cherry tree with a rounded crown and arching branches. It gets 20 to 40 ft (6-12 m) tall with a similar crown spread. The flowers are lightly almond scented, pale pinkish at first, fading to white, and borne in tremendous profusion before the leaves appear in late March and early April. The leaves usually color up in fall, and the framework and bark are attractive in winter.
There are several selections of Yoshino cherry available. 'Ivensii' is boldly weeping, with long branches that cascade to the ground. 'Afterglow has pink flowers that don't fade, and foliage that turns yellow in autumn. 'Snow Fountains' gets just 6 ft (1.8 m) tall, but spreads in a semi-weeping habit to 12 ft (3.7 m) across.
Yoshino cherry, Prunus x yedoensis, is unknown in the wild. It is believed to be a hybrid species created in Japan by crossing two Japanese cherries: Prunus speciosa (Oshima cherry) and P. subhirtella (spring cherry), which may be a hybrid itself. Yoshino cherry was first introduced to Western gardeners in 1902.
CultureYoshino cherry is extremely fast growing - a 3 or 4 year old tree can be 15 ft (4.6 m) tall and have a trunk diameter of 3 in (7.6 cm). Unfortunately, they aren't very long lived either; in America, most flowering cherries can be expected to succumb to insect damage and/or disease in 10-20 years. Light: Flowering is best on trees grown in full sun, but some flowering will occur on trees in partial or light shade. Moisture: Flowering cherries like a moist but well drained, fairly rich soil. Once established, Yoshino cherry should perform well without supplemental watering in regions that get 40 in (101 cm) or more of rain a year. It is not, however, drought tolerant in arid climates. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8. Some cultivars of Yoshino cherry, including possibly 'Afterglow', may be hardy to zone 5. Propagation: Root softwood cuttings in early summer; best results occur with bottom heat.
Yoshino cherry is one of the showiest of the flowering cherries. It makes an excellent specimen tree for the home landscape, and a spectacular display as an avenue tree or in groupings. Although the flowers last only a few days, they are remarkable for their beauty. The weeping forms are usually staked and tied until they reach the desired height, then they are allowed to grow outward and develop their graceful drooping branches.
There are more than 200 species in the genus Prunus. Among these are the plums, peaches, apricots, almonds, cherry laurels, and dozens of species of edible and ornamental cherries. English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is a popular evergreen landscape shrub. The genus is widely distributed in Asia, Europe, North America and the Andes of South America. Some species are evergreen and some are deciduous. All tend to be fast growing and short lived.
Like most species of Prunus, the leaves may cause stomach discomfort if ingested.
Steve Christman 4/16/03; updated 9/11/03, 3/30/08