Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cherries

I inevitably overlook cherry trees (Prunus sp.). I don't know why. In the spring, I look forward to the crabapples, but then am always insensibly surprised by how beautiful cherries are in the spring.

I've mentioned them in passing once and mused on the poor use of the potentially beautiful weeping variety, but I've never acknowledged the lovely fall color they have.


The above is taken outside of the Stuyvesant town apartments - but all around the city I have noticed how lovely cherries look this time of year. The fiery oranges and sunburst yellows contrast well with the trees' dark bark and the evergreen Pachysandra beneath.


Cherries area always easy to spot, even in the winter. They are a coarse-limbed tree with a dark brown - almost black - bark with a rosy pink undertone. Of course, more notable than the color is the bark's smoothness, punctuated with lenticels. (Lenticels are specialized 'pores' in the bark that aid in gas exchange.) The easy way to describe cherry bark is to say it looks like Shantung or raw silk.



But if you weren't convinced you had encountered a cherry, and the leaves were still on the tree, you could look for the small 'pimple' at the base of the leaf's petiole. That is typical to Prunus.




I haven't used a species name in this post, primarily because cherries are so often hybridized. This plant is most likely a Prunus serrulata, but it could be a hybrid of several species.

7 comments:

villager said...

I love cherry trees also - both the weeping ones and the ones with edible fruit. I didn't know about the little pimple on the petiole, so I learned something today!

Nell Jean said...

I have Taiwan cherries, which I tolerate because they bloom earlier than any other spring-blooming trees. These never seed about because birds take care of the tiniest fruits before they can ripen, or even eat buds.

Ms said...

Just a side note from DC.

DID YOU KNOW that all the Yoshino cherry blossom trees that have been added around the tidal basin all come from the original trees given to the US from Japan. They have taken cuttings and started trees from the original. Approximately 3,750 cherry trees are on the Tidal Basin, West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Most of the trees are Yoshino Cherry. Other species include Kwanzan Cherry, Akebono Cherry, Takesimensis Cherry, Usuzumi Cherry, Weeping Japanese Cherry, Sargent Cherry, Autumn Flowering Cherry, Fugenzo Cherry, Afterglow Cherry, Shirofugen Cherry and Okame Cherry. Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

In 1912, the people of Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to the United States as a gift of friendship. First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the remainder of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.

Mike said...

Hey! What happened to your photo? All of a sudden you are incognito.

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Anonymous said...

Cherries area always easy to spot, even in the winter. They are a coarse-limbed tree with a dark brown - almost black - bark with a rosy pink undertone.Tree Nursery Co