|Japanese cherry Prunus serrulata – Park Sentmaring, Münster|
|Subgenus:||Prunus subg. Cerasus|
|Section:||P. sect. Cerasus|
Prunus serrulata or Japanese cherry, also called hill cherry, oriental cherry or East Asian cherry, is a species of cherry native to China, Japan, Korea, and India, and is used for its spring cherry blossom displays and festivals. Current sources consider it to be part of a species complex with P. jamasakura and P. leveilleana, which have been reduced to synonyms.
Prunus serrulata is a small deciduous tree with a short single trunk, with a dense crown reaching a height of 7.9–11.9 metres (26–39 ft). The smooth bark is chestnut-brown, with prominent horizontal lenticels. The leaves are arranged alternately, simple, ovate-lanceolate, 5–13 cm long and 2.5–6.5 cm broad, with a short petiole and a serrate or doubly serrate margin. At the end of autumn, the green leaves turn yellow, red or crimson.
The flowers are produced in racemose clusters of two to five together at nodes on short spurs in spring at the same time as the new leaves appear; they are white to pink, with five petals in the wild type tree. The fruit of the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura, the Sakuranbo, has differences to the prunus avium/wild cherry, in that sakuranbo are smaller in size and are bitter in taste to the wild cherry; the sakuranbo is a globose black fruit-drupe 8–10mm in diameter. Due to their bitter taste, the sakuranbo should not be eaten raw, or whole; the seed inside should be removed and the fruit-itself processed as preserves.
Because of it's evolution, the fruit of the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura, the Sakuranbo, developed merely as a small, ovoid cherry-like fruit, but its not more developed as a small amount of fleshy mass around the seed within; as the prunus serrulate/Japanese Sakura was bred for its flowers, the tree does not go beyond going through the initial motions of developing fruits but they won't ripen and will be incomplete, not producing more flesh surrounding the seed. They simply will not ripen the way regular cherries, bred for the fruit, will do.
Prunus serrulata is widely grown as a flowering ornamental tree, both in its native countries and throughout the temperate regions of the world. Numerous cultivars have been selected, many of them with double flowers with the stamens replaced by additional petals.
There are several varieties:
Some important cultivars include:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prunus serrulata.|