Non fruit bearing cherry tree

Cherry Tree Problems: What To Do For A Cherry Tree Not Fruiting

Nothing is more frustrating than growing a cherry tree that refuses to bear fruit. Keep reading to learn more about why cherry tree problems like this happen and what you can do for a cherry tree not fruiting.

Why Am I Getting No Fruit From My Cherry Tree?

Cherry trees will fruit when they become old enough to blossom freely. Sour cherry trees mature at around the three to five year mark and sweet cherry trees at four to seven years. The overall health of the tree, which is influenced by a variety of factors, is the key to success when growing cherry trees.

Most cherry tree problems result from environmental conditions (climate and weather) of the cherry tree or orchard; cultural practices, such as watering, fertilizing and pruning; pollination and fruiting habit. These are also the most prominent causes of non-bearing cherry trees.

Environmental Factors for Cherry Tree Not Fruiting

The climate and weather affecting the tree can be a major factor in non-bearing cherry trees. Primarily, of course, plant fruiting trees that are recommended for your climate. Beyond that, frost is the foremost reason for a cherry tree not fruiting.

Temperatures below 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C.) may prevent the formation of fruit and need not occur during full bloom to affect the cherry tree fruit. You may suspect frost damage, yet may not see it as the flowers may look normal but not set fruit. If you are able to see damage, the center of the cherry tree blossoms (pistils), will look dark brown to black.

All fruiting trees need some cool temperatures to promote growth and end their dormant phase; however, sour cherry varieties are more tolerant of winter weather than their counterpart, the sweet cherry tree.

Covering the cherry tree in advance of frost (row cover material or old bed sheets can be used) or overhead irrigation may aid in protecting the cherry tree. Also, plant cherry trees on the least frost prone area of your garden. Look for areas that are either close to the house or slightly elevated.

Cultural Practices to Reduce Cherry Tree Problems

A good watering and fertilizing regime is essential to maintaining a tree’s vigor and fruiting capability. Water the cherry trees deeply but at infrequent intervals.

Don’t over fertilize, especially with nitrogen, as this causes foliage growth at the expense of fruit production.

Reduce competition from weeds or grass by cultivation, mulching, or weed product application.

Pruning practices are important, as excessive upright growth will delay fruit bearing and reduce the quantity.

Pollination and Fruiting Habit of Non-Bearing Cherry Trees

Lastly, although sour cherry trees don’t require one, sweet cherry trees do need a pollinating source nearby. Cherry tree blossoms but no fruit is a good indication that poor pollination is occurring. To minimize the distance a bee travels to pollinate, plant your co-pollinizers no farther away than 100 feet.

When your cherry tree blossoms but no fruit appears, it may also be due to its fruiting habit. Fruiting habit may relate to simple maturity. The cherry tree, whether sweet or sour, needs several years of growth before it is mature enough to fruit. The cherry tree may also be susceptible to biennial bearing, wherein the tree flowers every other year.

Fruit trees form flowers for fruiting the previous year and if too many fruit set, they inhibit development for the following year. Again, this is usually a maturity issue as older trees and their biennial bearing tendencies fade.

The lack of fruit from your cherry trees may result from one or more of the above. The cherry tree may not bear fruit at all if even one of these conditions is not met. As a cherry tree orchardist, it’s up to you to dictate and control conditions most advantageous to fruit production.

Garden News Blog

Eight Things You Probably Don’t Know About Flowering Cherry Trees

By Brian Funk | May 2, 2014

Thousands of visitors have been flocking to Brooklyn Botanic Garden this spring, and every spring, to view our collection of flowering cherries. They may be the most beloved trees in New York City. Still, there are many things most people don’t realize about these beautiful pink- and white-blossomed plants. Here are some little-known facts.

They make fruit.

Well, many of them do, anyway. Though these trees were bred for flowers, not fruit, some do produce small cherries, which appear during the summer. They’re too sour for people to eat, but birds like them.

Any given tree may only be in full bloom for about a week.

Cherry blossom season usually lasts about a month from the earliest bloomers—this year the ever-blooming cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Fudan-zakura’)—to the latest, usually the ‘Kanzan’ (P. ‘Kanzan’) and the ‘Ukon’ (P. serrulata ‘Ukon’). But an individual tree may only be in bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather. Of course, if they were in bloom all the time, they wouldn’t be so special.

Which cherries are blossoming right now? Visit the CherryWatch Blossom Status Map to find out.

They don’t live long.

Like their blossoms, flowering cherry trees themselves are fairly ephemeral too, at least as trees go. Most cultivars live only 30 to 40 years. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s collection includes some of the oldest specimens in North America, though—the two weeping higan cherries (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’) at the north end of Cherry Walk. Those were part of the original 1921 planting.

Flowering cherries actually don’t belong in a traditional Japanese garden.

Conifers, maples, azaleas, and mosses are all much more common in traditional Japanese gardens, which are created to showcase year-round seasonal interest. In Japan, flowering cherries, with their short blooming period, symbolize the ephemeral. They’re more likely to be planted in parks, where Hanami is pretty much celebrated as a drunken picnic. Office workers make their interns go out early in the morning with a blanket to stake out a spot under the cherry trees—kind of like movie nights in Bryant Park. Then later everyone shows up with the food and sake. Still, compared with cherry festivals in the U.S., they are rather solemn events where everyone contemplates the impermanence of life.

Here in Brooklyn, it would be hard to have a Japanese garden without including a plant so closely associated with Japanese culture. That’s why BBG horticulturists have always included flowering cherries in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

The blossoms change colors.

Many are dark pink when in bud, lighter pink when they first blossom, and then eventually pale pink or white. There are some interesting variations on this, though. The blossoms of ‘Ukon’, for instance, progress from greenish yellow to white, and then pink.

The trees on Cherry Esplanade have five times the typical number of petals per flower.

Cherry blossom species naturally have five petals, but some cultivars are bred for fuller blossoms and have many more. The pink double blossoms of ‘Kanzan’ have as many as 28 petals each. Interestingly, in Japan, many people would consider this rather gaudy. There, the most popular cherry blossom is the Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis), which has five white petals and is treasured for its delicate, simple form.

Take virtual tours and see cherry trees at peak bloom in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and on Cherry Esplanade.

The flowering cherries on sale at home improvement stories are Franken-trees.

You see these around a lot—they look like mops or umbrellas or octopus trees. They are probably weeping higan branches grafted onto to a cherry with a straight trunk that was cut off at five feet tall. I don’t blame people for buying them because they’re one of the only widely available options. It’s a shame, though, because they are often really weak and unhealthy. If you look around a little, you can probably find upright higan or Yoshino cultivars for sale, which I think are much nicer options.

This year aside, they are blooming earlier every year.

Lots of people think this year’s cherry blossoms are “late” since the trees flowered so much later than they did last year. But this year’s bloom times are actually pretty close to what used to be normal. The overall trend is for them to blossom a little earlier each year. That’s due to climate change. It wasn’t that long ago that Sakura Matsuri was scheduled for the first weekend in May, which corresponded pretty well with Cherry Esplanade’s being in bloom. Now, more often then not, it’s sometime in April.

Get cultivation tips and learn to choose the right flowering cherry cultivar for your own garden.

Learn how experts identify different cultivars of cherry trees.

Apricots, peaches, crabapples, and other trees also flower in the spring. Learn how to tell them all apart.

Brian Funk is a landscape designer and master ­gardener. He is also the curator of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and the Japanese tree peony collection at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Cherries can be tricky to grow, but the rewards are high and with new low-chill and dwarf varieties, more gardeners are giving them a go, writes PENNY WOODWARD.


Many gardeners are put off the idea of growing cherries because of their size – with trees grown from pips sometimes reaching 10m in height – and their demand for specific growing conditions, especially winter chill. However, there are dwarf cherries and a few cultivars that need lower chill, as well as pruning methods that will keep trees small.

So the good news is that cherry lovers don’t need a big garden or to live in a cold region to successfully grow them. And considering commercially grown cherries are routinely dipped into chlorine or iodine to prolong shelf life, it’s certainly worth trying to grow your own. After all, they offer delicious fruit, gorgeous spring blooms and beautiful autumn leaves.

Potted cherries are available year-round and can be planted at any time except the middle of summer. However bare-rooted trees need to be bought and planted in winter, and if you are buying from mail order suppliers it’s good to know that they sell out quickly, so it’s wise to order well in advance.

Growing requirements

Cherries are not heavy feeders but need well-drained, humus-rich soils and an open, sunny position. They do best in soils with a pH of about 6.5. Dig in plenty of compost before planting and then top-dress with compost in spring, and again after harvest. Too much fertiliser will result in lanky growth.

Cherries don’t like wet roots for long periods but do need plenty of water in summer. Water well in early spring or wait for a heavy fall of rain and then mulch with about 4cm of lucerne hay or pea straw, keeping mulch away from the trunk. This will ensure the roots don’t dry out – cherries are often the first fruit trees to succumb during long periods of drought.

Keep soil under the canopy free of weeds by mulching again in autumn, but use only about 2cm thickness at this time of year.

Rootstock and chilling

Most cherry trees are grafted onto other rootstock. Some rootstocks are resistant to bacterial canker; others produce lower-growing trees.

Winter chill is one of the biggest limiting factors for growing cherries. Cherries are generally limited to dry, warm and cold temperate regions. For warmer regions, low-chill cherry varieties can be hard to find but are becoming increasingly available. Wes Fleming from Flemings Nurseries says if you have proper seasons and regularly get winter minimum temperatures below 10°C it is worth giving cherries a go.

If you are in the subtropics and get cold winters, cherries might be worth trying, although you would need to grow an early-fruiting cultivar with resistance to splitting, or you would lose most of your crop when the rains start. In arid and semi-arid regions, cherries are possible if you can keep the water up to them, provide some shade in summer and protect them from severe frosts in early spring.

Microclimates can alter the amount of chill in a garden. If you are in a warm area, plant in the coldest part of your garden, such as an exposed slope. If you are in a cold region with late frosts, you might choose a position protected by buildings that reflect heat and provide frost protection by throwing a cover over the tree or watering at sunrise.

Pollination and pruning

Some cherries are self-fertile, while others need another cherry nearby for fertilisation. Even those that are self-fertile bear heavier crops if another cherry is close. Trees need to be compatible for pollination and need to flower at the same time. The other essential ingredient is bees. Grow flowers and herbs that attract bees into your garden in early spring, when cherries are in flower.

Fruit is produced on short spurs on two-year or older growth. There are several different ways that a cherry tree can be pruned and this usually takes place in February when growth slows. In hot regions it may be better to prune in March to avoid sunburn of exposed branches.

Trees are typically pruned using variations on the Spanish bush method. This involves pruning the tree back to 30cm above the graft after planting or in the first summer, resulting in four or six leaders the following year. The following February these are pruned back to 30cm above the previous year’s pruning point. Repeat the following season. This results in small, thin branches and lessens the vigour of growth. After three years there should be 15-20 leaders, each with numerous fruiting spurs, resulting in heavy cropping and a smaller, easily netted and harvested tree.

Pots and espaliers

Trees grafted onto dwarf rootstock can be grown in large pots, but use good potting mix with added compost and keep well watered during dry weather. Mulch and shade the pot from afternoon sun in hot weather, and prune to keep the trees small. Trees will also espalier well using a classic fan shape and can be purchased with espalier pruning already started.

‘TRIXZIE WHITE CHERREE’ is a high-chill dwarf cultivar. PHOTO: FLEMINGS NURSERY


In the last week before full ripeness, cherries not only put on nearly 30 per cent of their finished volume, but develop their sugary sweetness and flavour. Depending on the cultivar, harvesting takes place from early December to late February.

Once the fruit is starting to look ripe, pick and taste one every day. When your cherries have reached their full flavour but are still firm and glossy, pick them with the stems intact, using a gentle, upward twisting motion so that the small fruiting spurs are not damaged.

Pests and diseases

Bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae) is a serious problem of cherry trees in some regions. It usually enters trees through a bark injury or pruning cut and is spread by rain, generally during autumn or winter. To avoid this, don’t prune in early spring or late autumn/winter and always sterilise your pruning tools by spraying with methylated spirits after each cut.

If bacterial canker is suspected (look for irregular spots on leaves that drop out, leaving a shothole, and gumming and dark cankers on twigs and trunks) remove the affected branch well below the infection and spray the trunk and lower limbs with copper hydroxide.

Pear and cherry slug are soft-skinned larvae that will skeletonise cherry leaves. Pick off or dust with chalk, flour or powdered clay. Alternatively, spray with organic pyrethrum. Aphids too can be a problem and are best treated by squashing or with a pest oil (there are a number on the market) applied in the morning of a cool day.

Birds are perhaps the most serious pest and can destroy a whole crop, even before cherries are ripe. The solution is to net the whole tree. If you have a permanent frame over the tree, not only can you quickly and easily net it but if frost, hail or heavy rain is predicted you can throw a layer of hessian, old sheet or plastic over the frame to stop damage.

Remove this layer as soon as the threat has passed to avoid fungal problems caused by moisture in enclosed spaces.

By: Penny Woodward

First published: February 2013

Yoshino Cherry Tree Care | And More

Few trees put on a performance in spring like the Yoshino Cherry Tree. Oh, how those magical blooms, also known as sakura, welcome spring with a grand breathtaking display! This flowering cherry tree is beautiful in home landscapes. Yoshino Cherry Tree Care is fairly straightforward once your tree is established.

The cherry tree blossoms are white-pink, prolific, and smell faintly of almond. This tree has a lovely shape that is symmetrical, spreading, and generally rounded. The bark is smooth and gray, and as it matures has interesting dashed lines that break up the even surface. After flowering the Yoshino Cherry Tree does produce a small black fruit that birds love (which is why we rarely catch a glimpse of these relatively insignificant drupes). These fruits are nontoxic and edible, but not very yummy to humans. The green oval leaves turn a warm yellow in fall. Now on to important topic of Yoshino Cherry Tree care.

Yoshino Cherry Tree Care

Location. Location. Location. Before planting your Yoshino Cherry tree be sure you have the right location and conditions for your new tree to thrive.


Spring and fall are ideal times to plant. However, if you avoid freezing temperatures and extreme heat you can plant your cherry tree almost any time of the year depending on your location.


Yoshino Cherry trees thrive in full sun and are adaptable to most soil as long as it drains well. Water deeply when planting and about twice weekly for 2 to 3 months while your new tree is establishing. Once your tree is established you will only need to water during dry periods. When the soil is dry (especially during high temperatures) water deeply once weekly as needed to keep the soil moist. Adding a layer of mulch is recommended especially with newly planted trees. This will help keep the soil moist and cool in summer and protect the roots in winter as well. Do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk as this can increase the chances of pests and disease.


Fertilize in early spring and when planting to give your tree a boost. Choose a good quality balanced, slow release fertilizer.


Pruning is generally not recommended for ornamental cherry trees, but, if needed, prune in winter or early spring to remove any dead, dying, or crowded branches.

Pests and Disease

The best way to prevent disease and pests is by providing good care for your tree. Proper location choice, watering, and fertilization are the keys to your success!

Scale, Aphids and Mites are insects that can affect flowering cherry trees. You can treat these pests naturally with horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap. For severe infections you can use pesticides like carbaryl, also known as Sevin. Tent Caterpillars and Cankerworms are sometimes an issue for cherry trees. These can be treated with an organic pesticide spray, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Occasionally fungal issues can arise. Generally, treating after infection isn’t extremely effective, so if you have problems yearly treat in early spring with fungicides to prevent infection. Neem Oil is an organic method of treating and preventing some fungal diseases and pests. It can be effective, but the entire tree must be coated in order for this method to be effective.

Yoshino Cherry Trees in the Landscape

The Yoshino Cherry Tree is the perfect focal tree for your front yard. Build your landscape around this beauty and you will have a look you love and your neighbors admire.

This ornamental tree is beautiful as a focal by itself or in a group. A group of three in a corner of your yard or a line of Yoshino Cherry trees going up a long driveway is a glorious sight in spring that will welcome you home.

While this Japanese cherry blosson tree is known for its phenomenal blooms and ornamental appeal, it is also a great shade tree since it grows quickly and reaches 30 feet at maturity. Plant near a deck or patio to add shade and beauty in a spot where it can be admired.

Yoshino Cherry Tree Facts

  • This flowering cherry tree, botanically known as Prunus x yedoensis, is a clone of a single tree and propagated by grafting.
  • The gorgeous Yoshino Cherry is native to Japan, but is grown throughout the United States where it was introduced in the early 1900’s. It is specifically recommended for growing zones 5 to 8 here in the US.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. This was and continues to be a symbol of friendship between Japan and the United States.
  • The Yoshino cherry blossom tree grows quickly especially when it is young. Under optimal conditions it can grow 3 to 4 feet per year!

Yoshino Cherry Tree Lifespan

You will read and hear over and over that cherry trees including Yoshinos have short lifespans. There are many, many Yoshino Cherry trees that are well over 100 years old in existence. With proper care these trees easily live AND look lovely for about 80 years. So, no, they aren’t long-lived, but they can definitely be enjoyed for a lifetime and beyond. The reputation of Yoshino Cherry trees having a short lifespan of 20 years likely comes from them being planted in highly trafficked areas where they receive unintended abuse from soil compaction and bark damage. In the average homeowner’s yard this tree holds up much better.

Bloom Time of Yoshino Cherry Trees

When do Yoshino trees bloom? They flower in March to April. How long will the flowers last? This is such a common question that it seems important to address here. About 2 to 3 weeks depending on the weather. Here in NC it is generally about 3 weeks with the blooms often turning a deeper pink before dropping. High winds and heavy rain can cut the bloom time shorter to that 2 week season. This short bloom period is why these stunning blooms are a symbol of the ephemeral, yet beautiful nature of life. Yoshino Cherry blooms are a treasure, just like life. So, soak it all in and enjoy those blooms while they’re here!

Be sure to browse our Flowering Cherry Trees collection!

Flowering Cherries: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Spring is on the horizon and with that comes colorful blooms, pinks to purples to blues and beyond. But one of the most iconic blooms? The Flowering Cherry.

Spring is on the horizon and with that comes colorful blooms, pinks to purples to blues and beyond. But one of the most iconic blooms? The Flowering Cherry. Especially since the National Cherry Blossom Festival is only a few weeks away in Washington, D.C., where the iconic pink hues of the Flowering Cherry Tree reign supreme.

But asides from its good looks, the Flowering Cherry Tree boasts a lot to love. Longer blooming time, cold hardiness, strong and easy growth, just to name a few of its one-of-a-kind features. And with our buying guide tips and tricks, planting and growing a Flowering Cherry of your own is even more effortless. Check out why we love the Flowering Cherry below…and why it’s a must-have for your own landscape!

Choosing Your Tree

Though each Flowering Cherry variety is known by its enduring flowers, rich color and easy growth, there are multiple subtypes, each with a touch of unique flair. From the deep tones of the Kwanzan to the weeping branches of the Pink Weeping Cherry, there’s a variety for any landscape need.

1. Kwanzan Cherry

Easily the showiest of all Flowering Cherries, the Kwanzan’s bloomsaren’t just pink but double pink, meaningyou get twice as many petals and twice as many blooms.

Plus, theKwanzan Cherry Tree blooms in large clusters of3 to 5 flowers, making them thethickest of all pink flowering treeswith a look similar to carnations.

2. Autumn Cherry

The Autumn Cherry boastssemi-double blooms as well, bursting with color in the springtime. But what makes this tree so unique is that its flowers appear again in the falland during warm winters, when other trees are usually dormant or losing their leaves.

3. Yoshino Cherry

The Yoshino is set apart by itsstunning white blossoms, an abundance of which emergein the spring.Even better is its exotic branching patterncomplemented by its pure white cloud of delicate flowers. Basically, the Yoshino is like springtime on parade, especially since it’sdrought resistant and adapts well to an array of soil types.

4. Pink Weeping Cherry

Not only does this Flowering Cherry varieties explode with classic color, but it also features branches that grow upright and then gracefully cascade. And it fits right into small spacesor large landscapes, reaching a maximum possible height of 30 feet.


Luckily, once you’ve selected your Flowering Cherry Tree, it doesn’t take much to start.Start by choosingan area with full to partial sun and well-drained soil.When we say full to partial sun, we mean any locale that receives about 4 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. As long as your Flowering Cherry gets adequate sunlight and drainage, you’re good to go.


Once you’ve scouted your chosen area and selected your favorite Flowering Cherry, it’s easy to plant your trees.

Dig your hole just as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s root ball. You’ll want to keep the crown, or tip of the root ball, of the tree roughly an inch above the surrounding soil’s level. Add a bit more dirt to the mound underneath if necessary.

After placing your tree and loosening its roots a bit, back fill your hole with soil without covering the crown. Then, water to settle the roots. When the planting process is complete, spread a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch over the tree’s root area. Spread the mulch in a 3-foot radius around the base for best results – this helps keep the soil evenly moist.


Planting yourFlowering Cherry Trees is really that easy. Seriously – there’s not a lot of effort involved when it comes to these colorful, iconic trees. But proper care after planting is important to give your Cherriesa head start on a lush life.


If you’re not sure when to water your Flowering Cherry Trees, checkthe top 2 inches of soil. When it’s dry, it’s time to water…and a slow trickle with a garden hose for about 30 minutes is recommended.Generally, this could be about twice a week in the summer, or every three weeks in the fall.And your watering schedule will depend on several factors, such as the soil type, rainfall amounts and temperature. That means checking your soil for dryness is your best bet.


Thankfully, Flowering Cherries don’t requirefertilizer for the first two years, provided you keep weeds in check. However, when the time comes,fertilizeyour tree with a nitrogen-based blend. Applythis blend once in the spring, or spread it out intotwo to four equal applications over the spring and summer seasons.

Pruning the current year’s old, faded flowerspromotes flower buds for the following season.For best results, pruneyour Flowering Cherry during the dormant period, and remove any dead, damaged or diseased branches. Cut your small branches with pruning shears, and use a pruning saw for larger branches.

FGT Tip:Sterilize your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol to ensure a healthy cut during pruning.

Common Ailments

Flowering Cherries are cold hardy (most down to at least 0 degrees) and hardy in terms of strength, but it’s important to keep a watchful eye for more common pests and diseases.

Black Knot:These are dark brown or black swellings that form on twigs and branches, sometimes causing branches to girdle and die.

Brown Rot:A disease that causes flowers to collapse and die from small cankers that form on twigs and gum oozes out.

Leaf Spot: Circular, purple to reddish-brown spotsthat form on the Flowering Cherry’s leaves – infected leaves may yellow and fall prematurely.

Canker:A disease causing branch dieback and multiple perennial cankers- trees with frost or freeze damage and those under drought stress are most susceptible.

Ring Spot:Ring Spot causes delayed leaf growth in the spring on individual branches, or even on the entire tree. Leaves are smaller than normal and fewer in number as well.


Luckily, mostFlowering Cherry diseases are easy to treat, especially with organic, natural solutions.

Do ensurethat you always use an approved fungicide, or simply remove any dead or diseased areas. Furthermore, you must follow the directions exactly and fully remove infected material from the tree – don’t use any of this material for compost.

Fresh, Flowering Cherries…Just a Click Away

Flowering Cherries and the richly-hued Cherry Blooms they grow are thetrue harbingers of spring.From the eye-catching sight theretrees exhibit in Washington, D.C.,to their native Japan,the Flowering Cherry Tree is in a league of its own. Select your own today, and get a piece of history for your own homescape!

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Hi, I did a google search and stumbled onto this topic.
Flowering cherry trees can produce tiny little druplet fruits, but they are more fit for the birds than for people to eat. However, with the ornamental varieties of cherry blossom that are commonly planted, there are multiple good reasons why most people will rarely or never see the fruit (but I will get back to this subject later).
Are sweet cherries in the same species as flowering cherries? I have actually done some research into this, and it turns out the answer is very complicated, it’s not an easy yes or no question, for a variety of reasons. As it turns out, it IS possible to crossbreed sweet cherries with flowering cherries, and importantly the second generation offspring will be fertile (that’s not the case when sweet cherries are crossed with sour cherries). The reason generally has to do with chromosome count. Sweet cherries have 16 chromosomes. Wild Japanese flowering cherry trees also have 16 chromosomes. However, there are many ornamental cultivars which resulted from hybridization, which have 24 chromosomes. Black cherries and sour cherries, on the other hand, have 32 chromosomes. If you crossbreed sweet cherries with sour cherries, the resulting hybrid tree will have 24 chromosomes, and will still be able to produce fruit, but the seeds will be sterile (like breeding a horse and donkey together resulting in a mule, there will be no third generation).
Back to flowering cherry trees, the pink variety ‘kanzan’ resulted from hybridization many hundreds of years ago and is sterile, it will not produce any fruit. A bit of botany for you: One of the obvious indicators that this variety resulted from hybridization is the fact that the blossoms are double-flowered (2 rows of petals). This is common in other species as well (such as the yellow cotton tree), double-flowered blossoms often mean the plant is sterile and cannot produce seeds. Particular cultivars of cherry are propagated by cuttings, so the fact that they cannot produce seed does not matter.
By far the most common ornamental cherry variety is Yoshino. I was watching a documentary and there was an elderly Japanese expert who lamented that Yoshino is not really a natural variety.
Wild cherry blossom trees in Japan do produce tiny drupelet fruits. They are not very edible (the birds like eating them though).
The Yoshino cultivar is a terrible pollinator, it does not even attract bees. Those little fruits cannot form if there is no pollination.
For anyone who may be interested, I came across a published reference to Prunus campanulata being crossbred with sweet cherries. Here is the excerpt:
“Since there is no low-chill germplasm avaialable for sweet cherry, the only other alternative is to go to another species of cherry for this trait. Several species have been used in crosses with sweet cherry with occasional success with Prunus pleiocerasus and Prunus campanulata. In 1957, W.E. Lammerts made a cross between P. pleiocerasus and P. avium ‘Black Tartarian’. This hybrid is very low-chilling (<200 CU ) but not self fruitful. The hybrid was repeatedly crossed with sweet cherry and P. campanulata. In the mid 1970s, the Florida program developed several seedlings by using mixed pollen (P. campanulata and ‘Stella’). All the hybrids had pink blooms and thus were probably hybrids with P. campanulata. Several of these seedlings were fruitful. Although the size is still small, this germplasm is useful for the development of low-chill sweet cherries.”
Temperate Fruit Crops in Warm Climates, edited by Amnon Erez, p216
Prunus campanulata is the Formosan cherry, called kanhizakura in Japanese. Several hybrids of kanhizakura with other Japanese flowering cherries exist: kanzakura, okame, and youkouzakura being the three most prominent. The Formasan cherry is remarkable for being the only flowering cherry not originally native to Japan, and its ability to thrive in the Southernmost part of Japan where there is very little chill.
There are nine different varieties of cherry that grow in the wild in Japan, from which all other cultivated flowering cherry varieties originate:
Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura)
Oyamazakura (Prunus sargentii)
Kasumisakura (Prunus verecunda)
Oshimazakura (Prunus speciosa)
Edohigan (Prunus Ascendens spachiana)
Mamesakura (Prunus incise)
Choujizakura (Prunus apetala)
Minezakura (Prunus nipponica)
Miyamazakura (Prunus maximowiczii)


Cherry, any of various trees belonging to the genus Prunus and their edible fruits. Commercial production includes sour cherries (Prunus cerasus), which are frozen or canned and used in sauces and pastries, and sweet cherries (P. avium), which are usually consumed fresh and are the principal type preserved in true or imitation maraschino liqueur. A number of species are grown as ornamentals for their prolific spring flowers, and the dark red wood of some cherry species is especially esteemed for the manufacture of fine furniture.

cherry trees blossomingCherry trees blossoming in spring at an orchard in Germany.© ultimathule/.comcherry blossomsTime-lapse video, filmed over three days, of the opening of cherry (Prunus species) blossoms.Video by Neil Bromhall; music, (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article

Most cherry species are native to the Northern Hemisphere, where they are widely grown. Some 10 to 12 species are recognized in North America and a similar number in Europe. The greatest concentration of species, however, appears to be in eastern Asia. The native habitat of the species from which the cultivated cherries came is believed to be western Asia and eastern Europe from the Caspian Sea to the Balkans.

Three types of cherries are mainly grown for their fruit: sweet cherries, sour cherries, and, grown to a much smaller extent, the dukes, which are crosses of sweet and sour cherries. Sweet cherry trees are large and rather upright, attaining heights up to 11 metres (36 feet). The fruit is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit) that is generally heart-shaped to nearly globular, about 2 cm (1 inch) in diameter, and varies in colour from yellow through red to nearly black. The acid content of the sweet cherry is low. The higher acid content of the sour cherry produces its characteristic tart flavour. Sour cherry trees are smaller, rarely over 5 metres (16 feet) in height. The fruit is round to oblate in shape, is generally dark red in colour, and has so much acid that it is not appealing for eating fresh. The duke cherries are intermediate in both tree and fruit characteristics. The fruits of all varieties provide vitamin A and small amounts of such minerals as calcium and phosphorus.

sweet cherryCluster of sweet cherries (Prunus avium). Sweet cherries are grown commercially and are commonly eaten fresh.AdstockRF

Cherries are grown in all areas of the world where winter temperatures are not too severe and where summer temperatures are moderate. They require winter cold in order to blossom in spring. The trees bloom quite early in the spring, just after peaches and earlier than apples. In Asia, particularly Japan, cherry varieties have been selected for the beauty of their flowers, and most of them do not set fruit. These beautiful ornamentals are featured in many gardens and after about 1900 were widely disseminated throughout the moderate-temperature areas of North America and Europe. The Japanese flowering cherries around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., were presented by the mayor of Tokyo in 1912.

Cherry trees near Mount Fuji, Japan.© toraya/Fotolia Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today

16 amazing facts about cherry trees in Japan


  • 30,000

In Yoshinoyama in Nara, cherry trees grow in abundance – no fewer than 30,000 of them! One of the mountainsides was even dubbed “One look, a thousand trees”, “Hitome senbon” in Japanese.

  • 20,000

The cherry tree forest of Yoshinoyama attracts huge crowds: 20,000 people visit each day to admire the cherry blossom beauty during the sakura season.

  • 2,000

The Jindaizakura (“divine generations cherry tree”), can be seen at Jisso temple in Yamanashi prefecture, and is over 2,000 years old! It’s the oldest cherry tree in Japan. They say it was planted by the legendary prince Yamato Takeru (72-114) of the Yamato dynasty. It has two cousins: the Miharu Takizaku, over 1,000 years old (in Fukushima Prefecture) and the Usuzumizakura 1,500 years old (in Gifu Prefecture).

  • 600

In Japan, there are over 600 varieties of cherry tree, divided into 8 large families. The yoshino cherry (someiyoshino) is the most common and most popular of all. Most wild and hybrid cherry trees produce flowers with five petals, but some varieties have flowers with more than 20 petals, such as the kikuzakura cherry, that has 100 petals.

  • 11

All sakura otaku (fans of cherry blossoms) will tell you that there is a specific number of stages of flowering cherry trees. There are 11 steps, in this order: budding, swelling bud, blooming, flowering 10%, 30%, 50% and 70%, full bloom, decline, petal fall, and late flowering.

  • 1,000

There are over 1,000 hanami spots in the country. From parks, gardens, temples and riversides, some also offer yozakura (夜桜, cherry blossom viewing by night) and festivals.

  • 100

Although there are a thousand hanami spots, not all are on the national list of the 100 most famous places for hanami. Created in 1990 by the Japanese Cherry Blossom Association, the sakura no kai, it lists the most beautiful spots.

  • 2908

2908 yen ($26) is the average amount spent by the Japanese for an excursion under the cherry blossoms! The ideal snack is a homemade bento, accompanied by beer, tea or sake.

  • 206

The maximum length of hanami for people in Aomori Prefecture is 206 minutes, (3 hours and 26 minutes)! Meanwhile, Okinawans spend just 67 minutes (1 hour and 7 minutes) on hanami.

  • 812

In the year 812, the first official hanami event was held by Emperor Saga (786-842), in Shinsen-in garden, Kyoto. It was a custom heavily influenced by the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was confined to the imperial court and not popularized until later in the Edo period (1603-1868).

  • 760

The Japanese poetry anthology dating back to 760, the Man’yoshu, the “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”, is the oldest written record mentioning the sakura hanami in 43 poems.

  • 50

Cherry trees have a life expectancy of 50 years, and some are even centenarians. Poets with works in the Kokinshu poetry collection, dating from 905, expressed the similarity between the biological nature of the cherry trees and men, through poetic metaphors.

  • 27/3

March 27 is not an ordinary day in Japan: it’s cherry blossom day, sakura no hi (桜の日). Established in 1992 by the Cherry Blossom Association in Japan, sakura no kai, cherry blossom day is intended to generate deeper Japanese interest in nature, as the history and culture of the country is closely related to the sakura flower. A pun explains the choice of this date: 3 in Japanese is pronounced san (abbreviated as ‘sa’) and 9 is kyu or ‘ku’. Thus, 3 (sa) x 9 (ku) = 27.

  • 24/3 – 01/5

Every year, the Japan Meteorological Agency follows the progress of flowering cherry blossom trees in the country. In 2017 it will begin on March 24 in Fukuoka (Kyushu), and April 1 in Sapporo (Hokkaido). On the island of Okinawa and the southern-most parts of Kyushu, flowering occurs much earlier: from mid-January to mid-February. It’s not uncommon for tourists passing through during this period to first make a stop at the Snow Festival in Sapporo (Hokkaido) in the north of the country, then go and admire the Okinawan cherry blossoms right after, in the south.

  • 70,000

Spring festivals are popular in Japan, even at aquariums: a light show the colors of cherry blossoms is performed by 70,000 sardines in the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Images of cherry blossoms are projected, swirling amongst the fish in the aquarium.

  • 0

Zero! The number of fruits that ornamental Japanese cherry trees produce. Some hybrids or wild varieties produce fruit, but they are not consumed. However the Japanese do enjoy sakuranbo, small Japanese cherries from the satonishiki cherry tree. The majority of produce is grown in Yamagata Prefecture, where they have specially grown satonishiki cherry trees since 1900. Other cherries are imported.

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