Thursday, April 03, 2014

Prunus sequence UK

Prunus 'Shirofugen', 20th April 2014

I've been updating this post for a few years now, and I plan to carry on. Basically it's a list of Prunus taxa (cherries, plums, etc) in the sequence they come into bloom each spring.

I record dates of sightings each year, though I always miss seeing a few species.  The dates are when the earliest individuals of a species/variety is just starting  to flower -- but I mean really starting, not just one or two flowers but a whole branch...  (There's a considerable spread between the earliest and latest individuals of e.g. Blackthorn, Wild Cherry.) All the trees are in Swindon or Frome or Bath or somewhere in between, unless specified.

General notes on each year:

2013: All the early flowerers, except P. cerasifera, were held back by the freezing March and then bloomed all at once.
2014: very early and spread out.
2015: was generally a week or more later. 2016: started incredibly early but then normalized, extending the season.
2017: was early.
2018 was late until mid-April, then a hot spell brought everything out at once, compressing the season: the early varieties were late, and the late ones were early.
2019: early, to begin with: a mild winter and record-breaking heat in late February. But April was cold, slowing everything down and creating some bizarre anomalies in my dates, as sheltered trees could be several weeks ahead of exposed ones.
2020: very early, a mild winter. A couple of cold weeks in March began to restore normality, but hot weather early in April brought all the Sakura cherries out in rapid succession.
2021: A long spell of high pressure in April, with frosts at night and sun in the day, made an exceptionally fine and elongated cherry blossom season. 
2022: An absurdly mild winter and lovely weather in the second half of March.
2023: A strange, gloomy winter: cold but not seriously cold, dry in February, rainy in March and April. Many other plant species suffered, but the plums and cherries seemed unaffected, and flowered for ages with not many passers-by to enjoy them.  
2024: Another ridiculously mild winter (one morning of snow, in March). Cherry Plum in flower at start of Feb, Blackthorn mid-Feb, Wild Cherry March 12. March and early April rainy, all the later cherries flowering very early and almost simultaneously. 

Phase 0 (winterlong)

Winter-flowering cherry varieties (P. subhirtella) : blossoms pleasantly but thinly in mild spells through the winter. Some varieties start as early as October.

Phase I (very early)


Prunus cerasifera (Cherry-Plum)  2014: before the end of Feb. 2015: before March 17th. 2016: Jan 3rd (Apparently due to an exceptionally mild December. This extended rather than advanced the flowering season; there was still plenty of blossom around in April). 2017: Feb 18th. 2018: Feb 13th. 2019: Feb 16th. 2020: Feb 3rd (Facebook Wild Flower Group had recorded it through January). 2022: Feb 15th (It must have been around long before, as there was no winter to speak of, but I just missed it.) 2024: Feb 1st.

Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn)  2014 mid-March; continued to mid-April. 2015: March 27th. 2016: Feb 20th. 2017: March 8th. 2019: March 1st (after record-breaking heat in late Feb).2020: Feb 14th. 2024: Feb 15th.


Very early cherries like Prunus 'Kursar'. 2024: Feb 15th.

Prunus dulcis (Almond) 2014: mid March. 2015: March 27th. 2016: before Feb 5th. 2019: almost over by March 19th. 2020: February 15th.

Prunus  "Accolade" (hybrid of Winter and Sargent Cherry)  2014: just before equinox, carried on to 1st week of April. 2015: before April 5th. 2016: March 12th. 2017: March 17th. 2019: March 18th. 2020: A few flowers from February 3rd; fully out March 8th. 2021: March 20th.

Phase 2  (early,  before the first P. serrulata-derived ornamental cherries)


Bullace (Prunus domestica ssp institia). 2024: March 12.

Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel)  - 2014: equinox. 2019: March 25th. 2020: March 27th.
Prunus avium (Wild Cherry) - 2014: equinox.  2015: April 5th (first) - new individuals still coming into bloom on April 19th) . Individuals vary widely. I've seen exceptionally early flowering on two root-stocks, presumably P. avium, supporting neglected 'Tai-Haku' grafts. I excluded them from the dates given above. 2016: before April 7th. 2017: March 23rd. 2019: March 19th. 2020: March 18th. 2021: March 25th. 2024: March 12th.

Prunus 'Umineko'. 2019: March 20th. 2020: March 24th. 2021: March 25th. 2024: March 15th.


Prunus sargentii (Sargent Cherry) - 2014: equinox. 2015: April 6th, ending abruptly on April 17th. 2016: before April 6th. 2017: before March 23rd. 2019: March 20th. 2020: before March 20th.

Prunus "Spire"   (a hybrid between Sargent and Yoshino cherry, comes into flower between the two) 2015: April 3rd. 2016: before April 2nd. 2017: before March 23rd. 2019: March 15th. 2020: Partially out 8 March, fully out 14 March. 2021: March 20th. 2024: fully out March 11th.

Prunus x yedoensis Yoshino Cherry (Pale pink or almost white) 2014: Beginning of April.  2015: before April 3rd. 2017: before March 23rd. 2019: March 20th. 2020: before March 21st. 2021: March 23rd.

Phase 3 (traditionally, beginning of April through May)

Prunus serrulata -derived varieties  (Japanese oranamental cherries)

This is the traditional sequence, taken from Alan Mitchell's tree books. In my experience Tai-haku can often be earlier than Shirotae.

1. Shirotae   (2015: April 9th. 2017: March 23rd.2020: March 24th.)
2. Kiku-shidare-zakura (Cheal's Weeping Cherry) (2017: March 30th.).
3. Hokusai.
(About this time, Taoyame... 2017: March 28th. 2021: April 1st. 2024: March 18th.)
4. Tai-haku (aka Tae-haku aka Great White Cherry) (2015: April 9th. 2017: March 26th. 2018: April 19th. 2020: March 25th. 2024: March 18th.)
5. Ukon (2018: April 19th. 2019: March 25th; admittedly an anomalous record, the first blooms of a very sheltered individual in downtown Bath. I also saw a newly flowering 'Ukon' in Frome on April 15th! 2022: March 28th. 2024: March 26th.)
(About this time, Ichiyo ... 2024: April 2nd.)
6. Kanzan   (2015: April 17th. 2017: April 6th. 2018: April 20th. 2019: April 6th, but reluctantly... even a week later the trees weren't fully out. 2020: Just starting, April 7th; fully out April 10th. 2024: April 5th.)
7. Amanogawa (2017: April 7th. 2018: April 20th. 2019: April 12th. 2020: April 7th. 2024: April 6th.)
8. Pink Perfection (2017: April 7th. 2018: April 20th. 2019: April 1st; Anomalous; a few lower flowers after beautiful weather -- the next day the weather turned cold and nothing else happened for a week. 2020: April 5th.)
9. Shirofugen (2015: April 22nd. 2017: April 9th 2018: April 22nd. 2020: April 10th. 2021: April 22nd. 2024: April 7th.)
10. Shimidsu (aka 'Shimidsu Sakura', 'Shôgetsu') (2016: May 8th. 2017: April 10th. 2020: April 12th. 2024: April 8th.
(About this time, Prunus 'Royal Burgundy'. 2024: April 9th.)

Other species that show up in April/May.

Bird Cherry (Prunus padus). 2024: March 31st.

Double Wild Cherry (Prunus avium 'Plena'). 2024: April 5th.


The photos below are from 3rd April 2014. There's always a few Prunus trees that I can't name. The only thing I can say about both of these ones is that they are extremely distinctive.

Mystery Prunus tree 1.

This is about the shape and size of Prunus 'Spire'. The general impression from a distance is that it's whitish, but not the dazzling white of e.g. Tai-haku.  The flowers are single, neat in appearance and noticeably large. They bloom among the emerging fresh green leaves (you don't get the wall-to-wall-blossom effect that you get with 'Spire'). 3. The flowers do indeed emerge white, with golden stamens, but flush with pink from a beetroot centre. Anyway, very nice.

With a certain amount of hesitation, I'm going to plump for this being Prunus 'Snow Goose', though I must say it is not so pure white as I was expecting. It certainly looks similar to Prunus 'Umineko', and I know that 'Snow Goose', which originated in Holland,  is of the same hybrid parentage (P. incisa x P. speciosa).

The main differences seem to be: Size and shape: 'Umineko' upswept, medium-size, a street and estate tree, often on standards of P. avium.   'Snow Goose' more closely upswept and compact, well suited to a small garden. Flowers: 'Umineko' cup-shaped, often nodding; 'Snow Goose', more erect and more open, hence appearing large.

Mystery Prunus tree 2:

This one has a similar shape to the previous, but it's a much taller tree; taller indeed than any other pink cherry I can think of. I've seen it as a street tree and also as a grouping behind a Sainsbury's petrol station.

On an overcast day like today it seems rather a dingy, sad-looking tree. But in a family with so many obvious beauties, this has a certain appeal. The bark is dark but unmistakably cherry-like (i.e. with rings of lenticels). If you can manage to get close to the blossoms, they look quite nice:

The flowers are single, pink, and seem small compared to other cherries, perhaps mainly because of the narrow in-rolled petals, which produces a cogwheel effect.

Ah, found it! This one is Schmitt's Cherry (Prunus x schmittii), of hybrid origin (P. avium x P. canescens). Attractive lustrous bark on young stems, later peeling off in ragged strips, apparently.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger