Tuesday, April 02, 2019

That cherry tree in Frome

This is an ornamental cherry tree in Frome that I've been admiring for years. It comes into blossom early, at the same time as "Shirotae", and that's one reason why I've always assumed it was Prunus ''Hokusai", described in Alan Mitchell's tree books but now rarely seen. However after an hour of searching the Internet for images of 'Hokusai' (there aren't many good ones, but Keele University and Orange Pippin are helpful), I've reluctantly given up on that idea. So for now, let's just say that this post documents the Frome tree. You may think there's a few too many photos here, but mature cherry trees occasionally die without any warning (or the owners may decide to chop them down).

It's a stout, broadly spreading tree, domed but not especially tall, overflowing the courtyard where it grows. The buds are pink, with dark stalks and sepals, the stalks not notably long. The flowers when fully open are almost pure white. They are semi-double, but with only a few extra petals. The leaves emerge reddish-bronze at the same time as the flowers.

I've glimpsed what I think are other specimens; one somewhere in Trowbridge that I can't re-find, and another in Shaw (near Melksham). They are all mature trees.

I've scanned through all the Keele University National Collection of Flowering Cherries without spotting this variety. I could have missed it, though. Their photos are mostly of very young trees and they tend to focus on close-ups of open blossom, not on buds or leaves or mass effects.

('Hokusai' seems to differ from my tree in having pinker, more doubled flowers on longer stalks, and in the new leaves being less bronzy-red.)

Frome, 31st March 2019


Six days later I made a return visit and took some more pictures. The blossom is more completely out, the leaves are bigger and less red. I think it's looking even better.

Frome, 6th April 2019



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