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Old 04-15-2008, 09:02 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Cherry blossom trees vs. cherry fruit trees -- is there a difference?

Everyone is familiar with the famous cherry blossom trees in Washington DC. Well, Riverside and Sakura Parks in NYC have stands of similar trees that came from the same batch. They were all shipped to the US from Japan in the early 20th century.

But are those things really cherry trees? I mean, I don't think they produce cherries, just flowers. Am I right? If so, what gives?

(Just to name-drop, this question was inspired by an inquiry to my office from someone at Martha Stewart Living who was looking for NYC lore related to cherry trees. I told her about the park trees, and then added, "But I don't know if those are really cherry trees -- I mean, I've never seen them produce fruit." She didn't know either.)
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:05 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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We have 5 very old cherry blossom trees and they certainly do not produce fruit. My botanical knowledge isn't that deep in this area but, if you just want to know if the cherry blossoms produce actual fruit or not, no they don't. They are ornamental only.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:17 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Cherries may be produced by ornamental varieties of cherry trees, but may not be very worthwile - you might as well let the birds eat them. I have some sort of blossoming cherry tree next to my garage. It produces crappy little cherries, if you care to look closely. The most common ornamental cherry in DC is apparently the Yoshino cherry. As that article observes:
The fruit, a small cherry, is a globose drupe 8-10 mm in diameter; they are an important source of food for many small birds and mammals, including robins and thrushes. The fruit contain little flesh and much concentrated red juice, which can stain clothing and brick. The fruit is only marginally sweet to the human palate.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:20 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
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Wikipedia has some good information: Cherry
I have seen fruiting varieties used as ornamentals, but people don't tend to do this, because the fruit makes a mess, and attracts birds which also make a mess.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:23 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
Join Date: Mar 1999
Ornamental fruit trees are common and are, real and truely, members of their respective fruit being families. Ornamental crabapples and pears are probably the most popular. Depending on the variety and how old the tree is, both can create small, sterile fruits (birds might eat the tiny crabapples but I've never seen them go for 'ornamental' pear fruits) but they're mostly just for the flowers.

Most ornamental, and even fruit-bearing, trees are commercially reproduced by grafting. Partially to use hardier rootstock than the "parent" tree might have and partially to ensure that the variety is true to what you expect. In the case of ornamentals, it's also because they don't bear viable fruits but, even if they did, they'd probably be grafted anyway.

But, yeah, ornamental cherries are really cherry trees.

Last edited by Jophiel; 04-15-2008 at 09:24 PM..
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:26 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
I looked up the cultivator planted in Washington, and confirmed that is is Prunus Serrulata "Fugenzo" a flowering cherry that doesn't produce fruit. Here is the U.S. Department of the Interior's web sight detailing the history.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:37 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Ah, but this page on that same site says there's several varieties:

That's where I was getting the Yoshino as the most common:
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