A beautiful addition to dress up a landscape is the Japanese, or Yoshino, cherry tree. One of the most popular flowering ornamentals, the Yoshino can provide a showy display at all times of the year.
One of the most well attended events of each year is the Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrating the blooming season of the flowering trees in Washington, D.C. Over three thousand cherry trees were presented as a gift from the People of Japan to the People of the United States. Eighteen hundred of these were of the Yoshino variety, representing the largest portion of the gift of trees. The festival is timed to occur at the same time as the blooming period of the trees; an incredible display of stunning whitish pink flowers literally blanketing the Tidal Basin area as well as the downtown section of Washington, D.C. It is no surprise that these trees were specifically chosen to represent the goodwill of the People of Japan in the gift; the awesome beauty and lingering fragrance of these trees transcends that of most ornamental trees.
The Yoshino cherry tree is strictly an ornamental value in landscaping; no fruit is produced on this particular variety. It is an ideal tree for small yards, as the tree reaches heights of only 20 feet. The growth rate of the tree is quite fast, making it a great choice for new developments and landscapes. With a lovely spreading habit that can reach approximately 15 feet in width, not only will the blooming season be a visual treat but the shade provided in the hot summer afternoons will be refreshingly cool as well.
As with most ornamental tree varieties, there are certain health concerns of the Yoshino even though they are few. Borers may present an issue, with the ambrosia beetle rated as the number one pest of the cherry tree. Generally, the trunk is the main focus of this beetle, with the females tunneling in the branches and twigs. Protrusions of condensed dust will be pushed from the boring holes as the beetle makes its way into the interior of tree, resembling inch long tooth picks. Once the gallery has been established, the females will lay their eggs within the confines of the tree. These eggs hatch shortly thereafter, evolving through seven stages of growth before pupating.
An ambrosia fungus is developed by the adult beetle, which serves as food for both the adults and the larvae instead of the tree nutrients. Once a tree has become infested with the ambrosia beetle, it is not likely that it will be able to survive. Surrounding cherry trees can be treated, however, to avoid the same fate. Continuous monitoring of the trunk, watching for the small holes and the thin eruptions of wooden sticks will provide early signs of the beetle’s presence.
Another concern of the Yoshino cherry tree is canker disease. Since there is no known cure of this disease, it is important to detect any infection early to avoid as much loss as possible. Signs of the canker are browning under the bark, with the stems exhibiting cankers. These branches and stems must be pruned away, along with any other dead wood in order to slow the growth of the disease. Neighboring trees should be sprayed to keep the disease from spreading.
Despite the problems that canker and pests can present, there is no doubt that the incredible beauty of the Yoshino makes it worth the effort. With a life span of around 20 years, the trees will provide years of color and enjoyment in any yard or landscape. The millions of visitors to Washington, D.C. can attest to that.