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Japanese Cherry

Prunus serrulata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
35 metres tall
Gardens, parks, roadsides, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Flower clusters. The flowers can be white or pink. Pollinated by insects.
Each red fruit contains a single large seed. The fruit measures up to 1cm across. The seeds ripen from June to August.
Alternate, simple leaves which are narrowly ovate. They measure up to 12cm long and 6cm wide. The leaves turn yellow or red in autumn.
Other Names:
East Asian Cherry, Hill Cherry, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Oriental Cherry, Sakura, Taihaku, Tai-haku, Yamazakura.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Prunus serrulata, also known as Japanese cherry or sakura, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family. It is native to Japan and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant and for its edible fruit. The plant is known for its small, pink or white flowers and dark, glossy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including gardens, orchards, and along roadsides. Prunus serrulata is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 10 meters in height. It is commonly cultivated for its attractive flowers, which are a symbol of spring in Japan, and its edible fruit, which are small and sweet in flavor. The tree is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Japanese Cherry (Prunus serrulata), also known as sakura, is a popular ornamental tree native to Japan and East Asia. With its delicate pink or white blossoms and graceful form, the Japanese cherry has become an iconic symbol of spring and renewal, inspiring poets, artists, and photographers for centuries.

The species is deciduous, growing to a height of 15-35 meters and a spread of 6-12 meters. The leaves are oval, with a pointed tip, and turn a brilliant shade of gold in the fall. In late winter or early spring, the tree is covered in clusters of small, delicate flowers that last for only a few days to a week. The flowers are followed by small, edible cherries that mature in the summer.

One of the most famous and beloved traditions associated with the Japanese cherry is hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. In Japan, hanami season is eagerly anticipated, with people gathering in parks and gardens to admire the blooms, picnic, and celebrate the arrival of spring. Similar events are now held in cities around the world, from Washington D.C. to London, as people gather to appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossom.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Japanese cherry has a long cultural and spiritual significance in Japan and other East Asian countries. It is revered as a symbol of the fleeting nature of life and the fleeting beauty of youth. The sakura is also associated with the samurai, who used the tree as a symbol of their warrior spirit and the impermanence of their own lives.

The Japanese cherry is not just a cultural icon, but also a valuable resource for wildlife. The tree provides food and habitat for a variety of birds and insects, including the Japanese white-eye, a small songbird that feeds on the nectar and insects that live among the blossoms.

The Japanese cherry (Prunus serrulata) is a beautiful and versatile tree that has been loved and celebrated for centuries. With its delicate flowers, brilliant fall foliage, and cultural significance, the Japanese cherry is sure to be a favorite for generations to come.

The Japanese cherry is also a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts. With its delicate branches, small leaves, and beautiful flowers, it is a great subject for the art of bonsai. Bonsai artists carefully prune and train the tree to achieve a miniature version of its natural form, creating a beautiful, living work of art.

In the landscape, the Japanese cherry is often used as a focal point or specimen plant, either in a lawn, garden, or along a street. Its graceful form and stunning flowers make it a perfect choice for a variety of settings, from urban parks to residential gardens. The tree can also be trained as a standard or espalier, making it suitable for smaller gardens and patios.

Despite its popularity, the Japanese cherry can be a bit finicky when it comes to growing. It requires well-draining soil, moist but not wet conditions, and protection from strong winds. It also prefers a slightly acidic soil, with a pH of around 6.0-6.5.

Overall, the Japanese cherry is a beautiful and versatile tree that is well worth considering for any gardener or landscape designer. With its cultural significance, ornamental value, and ease of care, it is a true delight to grow and admire.

Cultivars of Japanese cherry have been developed to extend the blooming period, improve disease resistance, and provide a range of flower colors and sizes. Some popular cultivars include 'Kanzan,' which has large, double pink flowers, 'Shirotae,' with pure white blooms, and 'Yoshino,' a fast-growing cultivar with light pink flowers.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Japanese cherry has a number of uses in traditional medicine. The bark, leaves, and fruit of the tree contain compounds that have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, indigestion, and skin conditions.

The wood of the Japanese cherry is also prized for its beauty and durability. It is lightweight, yet strong, with a fine, straight grain and a warm, reddish color. It is commonly used for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments, such as the taiko drum.

Another important aspect of Japanese cherry culture is its role in the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony, known as chanoyu or sado, is a centuries-old tradition in Japan that celebrates the enjoyment of tea. It is a spiritual and cultural practice that focuses on harmony, respect, and simplicity, and the Japanese cherry plays a crucial role in the ceremony. Its delicate beauty and fleeting nature symbolize the transience of life, reminding participants of the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the beauty of the world around us.

The Japanese cherry is a truly remarkable tree with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Its beauty, versatility, and cultural significance make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. Whether you are looking for a stunning ornamental tree, a subject for bonsai, or a symbol of spiritual renewal, the Japanese cherry is sure to delight and inspire.

It's worth mentioning that the popularity of the Japanese cherry has spread far beyond its native range, with numerous cultivars and hybrids now available around the world. In North America, for example, the Yoshino cherry is a popular choice for parks, gardens, and streetscapes, due to its reliable blooming and attractive form.

In Europe, the Japanese cherry has been used as a parent species in the creation of numerous hybrid cultivars, including the well-known Okame cherry, with its bright pink flowers and bushy growth habit.

The Japanese cherry is also a popular choice for modern landscape design, where it can be used to create naturalistic or formal gardens, or as an accent or specimen plant. It is well-suited to modern styles, with its delicate flowers and sleek, slender form.

With its long history, cultural significance, and ornamental value, the Japanese cherry is a true treasure of the plant world. Whether you are a seasoned gardener, a nature lover, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the world around us, the Japanese cherry is sure to delight and inspire.

In closing, it is important to note that the popularity of the Japanese cherry has also led to concerns about over-collection and habitat loss. The species is listed as vulnerable in its native range, and efforts are underway to conserve and protect it. Gardeners and landscapers can play a role in this effort by choosing responsibly sourced plants and supporting conservation efforts. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the beauty and cultural significance of this beloved tree.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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