Forest 17 - Yoshino Cherry

Prunus x yedoensis

Yoshino cherry tree. Photo not from Arboretum 

Other common names

Yoshino cherry blossom tree, Tokyo cherry, Potomac cherry. Japanese: Somei-yoshino

Origin of the species name

Prunus is classical Latin for plum or prune; yedoensis means of or from Tokyo, the 'x' indicates that it is a hybrid species



Date planted

June 2008


Yoshino cherries can live for over 100 years.

Yoshino cherry blossoms in Forest 17. L. Muldoon

General description

This is a small deciduous tree with a broad vase-shaped crown. Its serrated leaves are often bronze-toned when newly emerged, becoming dark green by summer. The white to pale pink flowers emerge in clusters of five or six before the leaves in early spring. The fruit, a small inedible cherry, is produced in small numbers. In autumn, the leaves turn brilliant reds. Height 9m Spread 6m.

Natural distribution and habitat

It is believed to be a natural hybrid from Japan coming from a cross between Prunus lannesiana (syn. P. speciosa) and Prunus pendula (syn. P. subhirtella).

Conservation status

Although it has no official conservation status, it is a unique natural hybrid that has played a significant role in the Japanese landscape.


Cherry blossom is a national symbol of Japan. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) has been a Japanese custom since the 7th century. Somei-yoshino is their most popular and widely planted cherry tree and is the city tree of Tokyo. Its name comes from its extensive plantings on Mount Yoshino where it may have been planted since the 1700s. It produces both a cough suppressant and a chemical that can be used for inflammatory syndromes, but it has not yet been extensively used. 

Planting pattern

A regular square grid pattern.

Further reading

Yamaguchi L. and V. K. Murakami-Tsuda ( 2007) Sakura: Beautiful Flowering Trees of Japan.  Japanese American National Museum.