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Cherry Blossom Life Cycle
National Cherry Blossom Festivalon 31 July 2013
Transcript of Cherry Blossom Life Cycle
The Gift of Trees
On March 27, 1912, a gift of 3,020 cherry trees arrive in Washington, DC from Tokyo, Japan as a symbol of international friendship.
13 varieties of flowering cherry trees were planted around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.
Since then, the cherry trees have become an important part of the landscape of the Washington, DC region.
Today, 3,770 cherry trees surround the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park and many more throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. People from all over the world come to see the cherry trees in full bloom every year.
The Blooming Period starts when 20% of the flowers are in bloom, which usually occurs between mid-March and early April. The Blooming Period begins a couple of days before Peak Bloom and can last for as long as 2 weeks. The Blooming Period varies in length depending on temperature, wind, and rain.
After peak bloom, the cherry blossom petals fall off the tree. From late spring to early fall the leaves on the tree are green.
Some varieties of cherry trees produce small fruit which becomes food for birds and small mammals. But do not confuse them with the cherries you see in the grocery store!
Leaf Color Change
When the weather gets colder in the fall the leaves begin to change color from green to red, orange, and yellow, and they fall off the tree.
Which brings us through...
The dormant period of the cherry tree occurs during the winter. Dormant means the cherry tree is inactive, similar to sleeping. The dormant period begins when the last leaf falls from the tree and ends when the first bud forms in spring.
Cherry Blossom as a Symbol of Life
Blossoms Signal Spring
Annually, beautiful pink and white flowers blossom on the cherry trees as one of the first signs of spring, but how does this happen?
Five Stages of Bud Development
Green colored buds appear in late February and early March.
Florets become visible in March. Usually this means we are only 3 weeks away from peak bloom.
The buds swell indicating we are only 2 weeks away from peak bloom.
The lengthening of the flower stalks, also known as peduncle elongation, occurs. Only 1 week until peak bloom.
Puffy pale pink or white flowers emerge. Only 4-6 days until peak bloom.
The full cherry blossom life cycle!
In Japanese culture, cherry blossoms are a symbol of life. The beauty of the blossoms are enjoyed and celebrated every spring for as long as they last.
Now you are an expert on the life cycle of a cherry blossom!
Next spring go bloom watching and see if you can figure out when the cherry blossoms will reach peak!
Varieties of Cherry Trees
As you may have noticed, there are many types of cherry trees. Some trees have white flowers and some trees have pink flowers.
For example, the most common cherry tree on the National Mall is the Yoshino, which has white blossoms. The second most popular tree is the Kwanzan. This tree has beautiful pink blossoms.
If you want to learn more about cherry tree varieties please reference our Cherry Tree Species Flashcards.
Peak Bloom occurs when 70% of the blossoms on the cherry trees are completely open. The Peak Bloom period also varies in length depending on weather but normally lasts an average of 4-6 days.