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An Introduction to Kwanzan Cherry

Things to Know About Your Kwanzan Cherry

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Kwanzan Cherry

Kwanzan Cherry in NYC Central Park

Photo by Steve Nix
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Kwanzan cherry

Straubmuller/Flickr/
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Kwanzan cherry flower

Peter Stevens/Flickr

Introduction:

Kwanzan Cherry has double-pink, very attractive 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 may 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, 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:

Bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; 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 cause distortion of 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.

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