Prunus × yedoensis

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Prunus × yedoensis
Yoshino Sakura Tidal Basin DC.jpg
Yoshino cherry tree in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Species: P. × yedoensis
Binomial name
Prunus × yedoensis

Prunus × yedoensis (synonym Cerasus × yedoensis, also known as Yoshino cherry; Japanese: 染井吉野 Somei Yoshino) is a hybrid cherry of unknown origin, probably between Prunus speciosa (Oshima zakura) as father plant and Prunus pendula f. ascendens (Edo higan) as mother.[1] It occurs as a natural hybrid in Japan and is now one of the most popular and widely planted cultivated flowering cherries (sakura) in temperate climates worldwide.[2][3]


Yoshino cherry is initially believed to be native to Yoshino District, Nara. In 1900, Kimei Fujino gave Yoshino cherry a name Somei-yoshino after the famous place of cultivation Somei village (current day Toshima).[4] In 1901, Yoshino cherry was given a scientific name Prunus Yedoensis by Ninzo Matsumura.[5] However, after Ernest Henry Wilson suggested Yoshino cherry is a hybrid between Prunus subhirtella var. ascendens (Edo higan) and Prunus lannesiana (Oshima zakura) in 1916,[6] Yoshino cherry became to be called Prunus × Yedoensis. As for the Korean native cherry called king cherry (왕벚나무) which was given a scientific name Prunus yedoensis var. nudiflora by a German botanist Bernhard Adalbert Emil Koehne in 1912 continues to be called Prunus yedoensis.[7][8]


Prunus × yedoensis is a small, deciduous tree that at maturity grows to be 5 to 12 metres (16–39 ft) (rarely 15 metres (49 ft)) tall. It grows well in hardiness zones 5–8 and does well in full sun and moist but well drained soil. The leaves are alternately arranged, 6 to 15 centimetres (2.4–5.9 in) long and 4 to 7 centimetres (1.6–2.8 in) broad, with a serrated margin; they are often bronze-toned when newly emerged, becoming dark green by summer.

The flowers emerge before the leaves in early spring; they are fragrant, 3 to 3.5 centimetres (1.2–1.4 in) in diameter, with five white or pale pink petals. The flowers grow in clusters of five or six together.

The fruit, a small cherry, is a globose drupe 8 to 10 millimetres (0.31–0.39 in) in diameter; they are an important source of food for many small birds and mammals, including robins and thrushes. The fruit contain little flesh and much concentrated red juice, which can stain clothing and brick. The fruit is only marginally sweet to the human palate.[2][3]


Someiyoshino blossoms

Because of its fragrant, light pink flowers, manageable size, and elegant shape, the Yoshino cherry is often used as an ornamental tree. Many cultivars have been selected; notable examples include 'Akebono', 'Ivensii', and 'Shidare Yoshino'.[2]

From the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period, gardeners and craftsman who made the village at Somei in Edo (now Komagome, Toshima ward, Tokyo) grew someiyoshino. They first offered them as Yoshinozakura, but in 1900, they were renamed someiyoshino by Dr. Fujino.[9] This is sometimes rendered as 'Somei-Yoshino'.

The Yoshino cherry was introduced to Europe and North America in 1902.[10] This tree, along with the cultivar Kwanzan (derived from the related Prunus serrulata), is responsible for the spectacular pink show each spring in Washington D.C. and other cities. Several of 2000 Japanese cherry trees given to the citizens of Toronto by the citizens of Tokyo in 1959 were planted in High Park.

Origin debates[edit]

In 1916, Ernest Henry Wilson had thought that Japanese Yoshino cherry was a crossbreed of two wild species of Japanese cherry.[6] In 1933, the Japanese botanist Gen'ichi Koizumi reported that Yoshino cherry originated on Jeju island, South Korea.[11] In 1962, Takenaka ruled out the possibility of Korean origin by the morphological study.[12][13] In 1995 DNA fingerprinting technology was used to conclude that Yoshino cherry grown in many parts of Japan under the name Prunus × yedoensis is indeed clonally propagated from the same hybrid offspring of Prunus lannesiana (Oshima zakura) and Prunus pendula (Edo higan),[14] which confirms the 1991 conclusion given by Iwasaki Fumio that Prunus × yedoensis originated around 1720–1735 by artificial crossing of these species in Edo (Tokyo).[15] In 2007, a study conducted on the comparison of Japanese Yoshino cherry and Korean king cherry concluded that the trees native to these two places can be categorized as distinct species.[8] However, in Korea, Korean native king cherry is still believed to be the same species as Japanese Yoshino cherry.[16]

Other cultivars[edit]

Prunus × yedoensis has many cultivars other than ‘Yedoensis’ (Somei-yoshino).[17]

  • ‘Amagi-yoshino’ (天城吉野)
  • ‘America’ (アメリカ)
  • ‘Candida’ (薄毛大島, Usuge-oshima)
  • ‘Funabara-yoshino’ (船原吉野)
  • ‘Hayazaki-oshima’ (早咲大島)
  • ‘Izu-yoshino’ (伊豆吉野)
  • ‘Kichijouji’ (吉祥寺)
  • ‘Kurama-zakura’ (鞍馬桜)
  • ‘Mikado-yoshino’ (御帝吉野)
  • ‘Mishima-zakura’ (三島桜)
  • ‘Morioka-pendula’ (盛岡枝垂, Morioka-shidare)
  • ‘Naniwa-zakura’ (浪速桜)
  • ‘Pendula’ (枝垂大臭桜), Shidare-ookusai-zakura
  • ‘Perpendens’ (枝垂染井吉野, Shidare-somei-yoshino)
  • ‘Pilosa’ (毛大島桜, Ke-oshima-zakura)
  • ‘Sakabai’ (仙台吉野, Sendai-yoshino)
  • ‘Sakuyahime’ (咲耶姫)
  • ‘Sasabe-zakura’ (笹部桜)
  • ‘Shouwa-zakura’ (昭和桜)
  • ‘Somei-higan’ (染井彼岸)
  • ‘Somei-nioi’ (染井匂)
  • ‘Sotorihime’ (衣通姫)
  • ‘Suruga-zakura’ (駿河桜)
  • ‘Syuzenzi-zakura’ (修善寺桜)
  • ‘Waseyoshino’ (早生吉野)
  • ‘Somei-beni’ (染井紅)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Satoshi Ohta, Shinsuke Osumi, Toshio Katsuki, Ikuo Nakamura, Toshiya Yamamoto and Yo-Ichiro Sato (2006). "Genetic characterization of flowering cherries (Prunus subgenus Cerasus) using rpl16-rpl14 spacer sequences of chloroplast DNA". 園芸雑誌(J. Japan. Soc. Hort. Sci.) 75 (1): 72–78. Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
  2. ^ a b c Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  3. ^ a b Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  4. ^ Fujino author=藤野寄命, Kimei (1900). "上野公園桜花の性質" [Characteristics of flowering cherry in Ueno Park]. 日本園芸会雑誌 [Journal of Japan Horticulture Society] (in Japanese) (日本園芸会 [Japan Horticulture Society]) 92: 1–19. 
  5. ^ Matsumura, Ninzo (1901). "Cerasi Japonicæ duæ Species novæ". Botanical Magazine, Tokyo (Shokubutsugaku Zasshi) (in Latin) (The Botanical Society of Japan) 15: 99–101. 
  6. ^ a b Wilson, E. H. (1916). "The Cherries of Japan". Publications of the Arnold Arboretum (Harvard University Press) (7): 16. 
  7. ^ Koehne, Von E. (1912). "95 Prunus yedoensis var. nudiflora, nov. var.". Repertorium Specierum Novarum Regni Vegetabilis (Herausgebers) 10: 507. 
  8. ^ a b Roh, M.S., Cheong, E.J., Choi, I-Y and Young, Y.H. (2007). "Characterization of wild Prunus yedoensis analyzed by inter-simple sequence repeat and chloroplast DNA.". Scientia Horticulturae 114 (2): 121–128. doi:10.1016/J.scientia2007.06.005. Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  9. ^ 染井吉野 (in Japanese). 語源由来辞典. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  10. ^ Mitchell, A. F. (1974). A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-212035-6
  11. ^ Koidzumi G (1932). "Prunus yedoensis Matsum. is a native of Quelpaert". Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica 1: 177. 
  12. ^ Iketani, Hiroyuki; et al. (2007). "Analyses of Clonal Status in ‘Somei-yoshino’ and Confirmation of Genealogical Record in Other Cultivars of Prunus × yedoensis by Microsatellite Markers" (PDF). Breeding Science 57: 1–6. natural hybridization either in the Izu peninsula, on Izu-oshima Island or on Cheju-do Island in Korea, although the possibility of the latter location was ruled out by Takenaka (1962) 
  13. ^ Takenaka, Yo (1963). "The Origin of the Yoshino cherry tree". Journal of Heredity 54: 207-211. I visited the (Quelpart) island in 1933 and observed that the tree, which was growing wild, showed differences from P. yedoensis; the hairs on calyx lobes and on the lower side of leaves were less numerous, and the peduncles were shorter. I concluded that it could not be P. yedoensis. I assumed that it might be a hybrid between P. subhirtella var. pendula form ascendens (Edo-higan) and P. quelpartensis (Tanna-Yamazakura; perhaps a form of P. verecunda) or some other cherry species 
  14. ^ H. Innan, R.Terauchi, NT Miyashita, K Tsunewaki (1995). "DNA fingerprinting study on the intraspecific variation and the origin of Prunus yedoensis (Someiyoshino).". Japanese Journal of Genetics 70 (2): 185–196. doi:10.1266/jjg.70.185. PMID 7605671. 
  15. ^ ソメイヨシノとその近縁種の野生状態とソメイヨシノの発生地. 筑波大農林研報 (1991), 3:95–110.
  16. ^ "[취재후] 꽃의 전쟁…벚꽃의 원산지는?" [Flower war...Origin of Cherry tree?] (in Koorean). KBS. April 11, 2014. 
  17. ^ Kato, Shuri; et al. (June 2014). "Origins of Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus subgenus Cerasus) cultivars revealed using nuclear SSR markers, Supplementary Material, Online Resource 5" (PDF). Tree Genetics & Genomes. pp. 477–487.