An Introduction to the Kwanzan Cherry Tree

Blooming Pink Japanese Cherry or Sakura Flowers (Prunus Serrulata or Kanzan)

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Kwanzan Cherry has double-pink, beautiful flowers and is usually purchased and planted for this reason. The upright-spreading form, reaching 15 to 25 feet tall, is quite attractive in many locations including near a patio or as a specimen away from lawn grass competition. The tree is glorious in flower and has been planted along with Yoshino Cherry in Washington, D.C. and Macon, Georgia for their annual Cherry Blossom Festivals.

This cherry provides a strong contrast to lighter-colored cherry blossoms, like Yoshino cherry, by showing a pink flower later in April and May. It becomes a larger part of the cherry show as spring introduces flowering later in the Northeastern U.S.

Specifics

  • Scientific Name: Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’
  • Pronunciation: PROO-nus sair-yoo-LAY-tuh
  • Common Name: Kwanzan Cherry
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5B through 9A
  • Origin: Not native to North America
  • Uses: Bonsai; container or above-ground planter; near a deck or patio; trainable as a standard; specimen; residential street tree;

Cultivars

Some cultivars might be locally available including:

  • ‘Amanogawa’(‘Erecta’): Semi-double, light pink, fragrant flowers, narrow columnar habit, about 20 feet tall;
  • ‘Shirotae’(‘Mt. Fuji’, ‘Kojima’): Flowers double to semi-double, white, ruffled, about 2.5 inches across; ‘Shogetsu’ - tree 15 feet tall, broad and flat-topped, flowers double, pale pink, the center may be white, can be two inches across;
  • ‘Ukon’: Young foliage bronze, flowers pale yellow, semi-double.

Description

  • Height: 15 to 25 feet
  • Spread: 15 to 25 feet
  • Crown Uniformity: Symmetrical canopy with a regular (or smooth) outline and individuals have more or less identical crown forms
  • Crown Shape: Upright; vase shape
  • Crown Density: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Texture: Medium

Trunk and Branches

The bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; the tree grows mostly upright and will not droop; showy trunk; should be grown with a single leader.

  • Pruning Requirement: Needs little pruning to develop a strong structure
  • Breakage: Resistant
  • Current Year Twig Color: Brown
  • Current Year Twig Thickness: Medium

Foliage

  • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Margin: Serrate
  • Leaf Shape: Lanceolate; ovate
  • Leaf Venation: Banchidodrome; pinnate
  • Leaf Type and Persistence: Deciduous
  • Leaf Blade Length: 4 to 8 inches; 2 to 4 inches
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Fall Color: Copper; orange; yellow
  • Fall Characteristic: Showy

Culture

  • Light Requirement: Tree grows in full sun
  • Soil Tolerances: Clay; loam; sand; acidic; occasionally wet; alkaline; well-drained
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate
  • Aerosol Salt Tolerance: Moderate
  • Soil Salt Tolerance: Poor

In Depth

Neither stress-tolerant or highly drought-tolerant, Kwanzan Cherry should be located on a site with loose soil and plenty of moisture. Not for an urban parking lot or exposed street tree planting where borers and other problems normally attack. It has some tolerance to salt and tolerates clay if well drained.

Kwanzan cherry has good yellow fall color, does not bear fruit, but is somewhat troubled with pests. These pests include aphids which distort new growth, deposits of honeydew, and sooty mold. Bark borers can attack flowering cherries, and scale insects of several types infest cherries. Spider mites can cause yellowing or stippling of leaves and tent caterpillars make large webbed nests in trees then eat the foliage.

Kwanzan Cherry prefers full sun, is intolerant of poor drainage, and is easily transplanted. However, the useful life of the species is limited to about 15 to 25 years for 'Kwanzan' when on a good site. Still, the tree is a joy during this short period and should be planted.