Well, it's well and truly 花見 (hanami/blossom viewing) season again. This coming weekend will see the peak in my town. Check our past entry for the full-bloom sakura dates for your region of Japan.

The trees became nationally iconic in a bid, many years ago, for Japan to distance itself from China (whose national symbol is the plum blossom). In hindsight, they probably should have picked something a bit more different, as the two are often confused by outsiders.

The distinctly white, mildly pink (when in full bloom) blossom which dominates much of Japan belongs to a tree known as 染井吉野 (somei yoshino). This is the "standard tree". There are around 100 other varieties, such as the low hanging, droopy branches of 枝垂れ桜 (shidarezakura). Intensely pink blossoms most likely belong to 関山桜 (kanzanzakura).

Anyway, someone asked me the other day about the different types of cherry trees seen in bloom. So, here's the answer they wanted:

Click to enlarge.

1. 染井吉野 (Somei yoshino).
 Distinctive for being everywhere.

2. 八重桜 (Yaezakura)
Distinctive for it's bushy, double-blossoms.

3. 山桜 (Yamazakura).
Distinctive for growing wild.

4. 関山桜 (Kanzanzakura).
Large, clumpy blossoms.

5. 普賢象桜 (Fugenzozakura)
Distinctive for it's heavy, thick blossom.

6. . 枝垂れ桜 (Shidarezakura).
Distinctive for its fountain effect.

7. ウコン桜 (Ukonzakura).
Distinctive for being yellowy green.

8. 一葉桜 (Ichiyozakura).

9. 松月桜 (Shougetsuzakura).

10. 十月桜 (Juugatsuzakura).
Distinctive for flowering in October.

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