Now that it’s almost spring, everybody is or will be posting photos of plum and cherry blossoms in Japan. Have you ever wondered about the difference between the two?
1) Plum blossoms have short stalks with single or two buds; cherry blossoms have longer stalks and form a cluster of buds.
2) Plum trees have fewer blossoms; cherry trees are covered in what I call pink popcorn.
3) Plum blossoms have a delightful fragrance; cherry blossoms rarely do. The cherry tree variety that is most widely planted in Japan and most closely associated with the hanami season, Somei Yoshino (Latin name Prunus × yedoensis), has no fragrance at all.
4) Plum blossoms have oval petals; cherry blossoms have rounder petals that are often notched. If you represent them graphically, left is plum, right is cherry:
I’ve added photos of both, with plum at the top and cherry at the bottom:
Prunus x yedoensis (Yoshino cherry) originated from Japan around 1902, it is considered a hybrid between Prunus speciosa and Prunus x subhirtella. This deciduous tree has wide arching branches that create a broad and flat crown. In full flower it appears to be a ‘cloud’ that has landed on a lawn at Cambridge Botanic Garden, UK.