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Japanese Cherry Prunus serrulata (Rosaceae) HEIGHT to 15m. A small to medium-sized deciduous tree. BARK Purple-brown, ringed by horizontal lines of prominent lenticels. BRANCHES Ascending, usually fanning out from the bole and terminating in smooth twigs. LEAVES Up to 20cm long, ovate and drawn out to a long tapering tip; the margin is sharply toothed and the smooth petiole, to 4cm long, has up to 4 red glands near the base. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS The white or pink flowers grow in clusters of 2–4, opening just before the leaves; in some cultivars so flowers are borne on a 8cm-long petiole, may have notched petals, and vary in shade from pure white to deep pink. Fruits are round, to 7mm long and deep purple-crimson; they seldom develop in cultivated trees. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION Probably native to China, then introduced into Japan at a very early date, and subsequently brought to our region where now it is a very popular garden tree. Centuries of breeding and selection have made modern trees different from their wild ancestors, which are rarely seen. SIMILAR TREES Originally bred in Japan and ancient in origin, there are many cultivated forms of Cherry that are popular here as garden tree, and that are often collectively referred to as ‘Japanese Cherries’; typically they are known only by their cultivar names. Popular forms include: Prunus ‘Kanzan’ with magenta buds and pink flowers; Prunus ‘Shirofugen’ with pink buds and white double flowers; Prunus ‘Shirotae’ with large, white flowers; Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ with pink double flowers.
- © ANDREW CLEAVE/Nature Photographers
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- Contained in galleries