Open main menu

Prunus serrulata or Japanese cherry,[1] also called hill cherry, oriental cherry, East Asian cherry, Tai-haku,[2] or Taihaku,[3] is a species of cherry native to China, Japan, Korea, and India,[4] and is used for its spring cherry blossom displays and festivals. Current sources consider it to be part of a species complex with P. jamasakura and P. leveilleana, which have been reduced to synonyms.

Prunus serrulata
Münster, Park Sentmaring -- 2016 -- 1767.jpg
Japanese cherry Prunus serrulata – Park Sentmaring, Münster
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus subg. Cerasus
Section: P. sect. Cerasus
P. serrulata
Binomial name
Prunus serrulata
  • Cerasus serrulata (Lindl.) Loudon
  • Prunus angustissima Nakai
  • Prunus chikusiensis Koidz.
  • Prunus heteroflora Miyoshi
  • Prunus jamasakura Siebold ex Koidz.
  • Prunus koidzumii Makino
  • Prunus leveilleana Koehne
  • Prunus mutabilis Miyoshi
  • Prunus ogawana Makino
  • Prunus paramutabilis Nakai
  • Prunus pudibunda Koidz.
  • Prunus rotundipetala Nakai
  • Prunus sieboldii Koidz.
  • Prunus sontagiae Koehne
  • Prunus superflua Koidz.
  • Prunus tenuiflora Koehne
  • Prunus tokugawana Makino
  • Prunus veitchii Koehne
  • Prunus mesadenia Koehne
  • Prunus quelpaertensis Nakai


Prunus serrulata is a small deciduous tree with a short single trunk, with a dense crown reaching a height of 7.9–11.9 metres (26–39 ft). The smooth bark is chestnut-brown, with prominent horizontal lenticels. The leaves are arranged alternately, simple, ovate-lanceolate, 5–13 cm long and 2.5–6.5 cm broad, with a short petiole and a serrate or doubly serrate margin. At the end of autumn, the green leaves turn yellow, red or crimson.[5]


The flowers are produced in racemose clusters of two to five together at nodes on short spurs in spring at the same time as the new leaves appear; they are white to pink, with five petals in the wild type tree. The fruit of the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura, the Sakuranbo, has differences to the prunus avium/wild cherry, in that sakuranbo are smaller in size and are bitter in taste to the wild cherry; the sakuranbo is a globose black fruit-drupe 8–10mm in diameter. Due to their bitter taste, the sakuranbo should not be eaten raw, or whole; the seed inside should be removed and the fruit-itself processed as preserves.

Because of it's evolution, the fruit of the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura, the Sakuranbo, developed merely as a small, ovoid cherry-like fruit, but its not more developed as a small amount of fleshy mass around the seed within; as the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura was bred for its flowers, the tree does not go beyond going through the initial motions of developing fruits but they won't ripen and will be incomplete, not producing more flesh surrounding the seed. They simply will not ripen the way regular cherries, bred for the fruit, will do.


Prunus serrulata is widely grown as a flowering ornamental tree, both in its native countries and throughout the temperate regions of the world. Numerous cultivars have been selected, many of them with double flowers with the stamens replaced by additional petals.

In cultivation in Europe and North America, it is usually grafted on to Prunus avium roots; the cultivated forms rarely bear fruit. It is viewed as part of the Japanese custom of Hanami.

Varieties and cultivarsEdit

There are several varieties:

  • Prunus serrulata var. hupehensis (Ingram) Ingram. Central China. Not accepted as distinct by the Flora of China.
  • Prunus serrulata var. lannesiana (Carrière) Makino (syn. Cerasus lannesiana Carrière; Prunus lannesiana (Carrière) E. H. Wilson). Japan.
  • Prunus serrulata var. pubescens (Makino) Nakai. Korea, northeastern China.
  • Prunus serrulata var. serrulata (syn. var. spontanea). Japan, Korea, China.
  • Prunus serrulata var. spontanea (Maxim.) E. H. Wilson (syn. Prunus jamasakura Siebold ex Koidz.)

Some important cultivars include:

Prunus serrulata 'Kanzan' in bloom at Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France
  • 'Amanogawa'. Fastigiate cherry, with columnar habit; flowers semi-double, pale pink.[6]
  • 'Kanzan'. = 'Sekiyama', 'Kwanzan', or 'Kansan'. Kanzan Cherry. Flowers pink, double; young leaves bronze-coloured at first, becoming green.[6][7][8]
  • 'Kiku-shidare'. Cheal's Weeping Cherry. Stems weeping; flowers double, pink. Tends to be short-lived.[6]
  • 'Shirofugen'. = 'Shiro-fugen'. Flowers double, deep pink at first, fading to pale pink.[6][9]
  • 'Shirotae'. Mt. Fuji Cherry. Very low, broad crown with nearly horizontal branching; flowers pure white, semi-double.[6][10]
  • 'Tai Haku'. Great White Cherry. Flowers single, white, very large (up to 8 cm diameter); young leaves bronze-coloured at first, becoming green.[6]
  • 'Ukon'. = 'Grandiflora', P. serrulata f. grandiflora Wagner. Green Cherry. Flowers semi-double, cream-white or pale yellow. Young leaves light bronzy-green. Fall leaf color can be purple or rusty-red.[6][11]
Prunus serrulata in Ponta Grossa, southern Brazil. Flowering in this region occurs in the middle of winter.



  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ "Prunus 'Tai-Haku'". Landscape Plants | Oregon State University. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  3. ^ Raven, Sarah (2001-03-30). "In focus: Prunus 'Taihaku'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  4. ^ "Cherry Blossoms are not necessarily pink in color".
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Arthur Lee Jacobson. "Plant of the Month: April 2005: Japanese Sato zakura in Seattle: Prunus cultivars". Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Prunus 'Kanzan' AGM". Plant Selector. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Prunus 'Kanzan'". Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Prunus 'Shirofugen'". Plant Selector. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Prunus 'Shirotae'". Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Prunus 'Ukon' AGM". Plant Selector. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 30 March 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit