Cherry Blossom Introduction
Cherry blossoms, or 'sakura' in Japanese, symbolize ephemeral beauty. These delicate pink flowers are deeply ingrained in many cultures, particularly in Japan, where they herald spring's arrival.
Botanical Classification Explained
Botanically, cherry blossoms belong to the genus Prunus, which also includes plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and almonds. Prunus serrulata is the most common species associated with traditional sakura.
Global Cherry Blossom Varieties
There are over 600 varieties of cherry blossom trees, each with unique qualities. Varieties range from the iconic Somei Yoshino with its nearly pure white petals to the dramatic, multi-petaled Kanzan.
Cherry blossoms have a fleeting lifespan. From the time they bloom, it takes just about one to two weeks for the flowers to reach full bloom (mankai) and then fall like a delicate pink snow.
Hanami: Blossom Viewing Tradition
Hanami is the centuries-old Japanese tradition of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. The practice is an opportunity for relaxation and contemplation of the transient nature of life.
Cherry blossom festivals occur worldwide, celebrating the blossoms' beauty. Notable festivals can be found in Japan, Washington D.C., Brazil, and even India, where the Himalayan cherry blossoms are celebrated.
Unexpected Cherry Blossom Uses
Beyond their beauty, cherry blossoms are edible and used in traditional Japanese confections, like sakuramochi. The blossoms and leaves are pickled and used for flavoring in teas and sweets.