Charles Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston imported cherry tree seeds from Japan in 1892. The cherry’s genus, Prunus, contains over 400 different species of trees and most are natives of Northern temperate areas. All have fruit, referred to as a drupe, that has a fleshy exterior containing an inner stone which encases the seed. What we refer to as stone fruits–cherries, plums, peaches, etc.– are drupes. These deciduous trees are broad spreaders and can grow to 66feet in zones 4-7.
The Prunus Sargentii
One of the loveliest cherry trees grown for seeds is the imported tree named after Charles Sargent, Prunus sargentii (it is customary when a plant is named for a person whose name ends in a consonant to add two ii vowels to end of the word). Prunus Sargentii is noted for its:
- profusion of single pink flowers before the leaves emerge in the spring
- dark freckled bark
- black, egg-shaped drupes Prunus sargentii
- serrated leaves that emerge as a bronze color, turn green and then, in the fall, turn orange.
Cherry Blossoms As Symbols
Since 1912 when the first two cherry trees were planted on the Northern brink of the tidal basin in Washington D.C., cherry blossoms have symbolized a bond between Japan and our country. There are twelve different species of cherry blossoms represented there.