Mid-season (2020) notes

Discussion in 'Vancouver Cherry Blog' started by wcutler, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Clearly, I have not remembered to keep up this blog. There were years 2018 and 2019 - at least we have photos in the Neighbourhood Blogs. It is now mid-season for cherries in 2020. Here is a note I just sent the cherry scouts. If you are in the Vancouver area and would like to be on my mailing list, start a Conversation with me and tell me so, including your email address.

    Our scout lifers and newbies have been heeding Dr. Bonnie Henry's advice to get out for a walk and soak up some nature, and there have been posts from eighteen Vancouver neighbourhoods (actually, I'm surprised - I thought Anne Eng had hit them all) and six suburbs (I'm counting the Sunshine Coast as a suburb; I'm not counting Japan as a suburb, but Mariko (eteinindia) has done postings from there as well). You can find the postings on our forums in each neighbourhood thread at

    Here's what's up: all midseason cherries are in bloom or have finished blooming (except maybe 'Jo-nioi'). I'm referencing the colour coding in our book, which, by the way, is available as a download from the Shop tab on the festival website at https://www.vcbf.ca/). Some early late-season cherries are open, and some others have their first flowers.

    What else is opening now are sweet cherries, Prunus avium, also called mazzard cherries. These are not considered ornamental, and are not in our book, though we do include a fancy double-blossomed cultivar called avium 'Plena'. They are, however, very showy, with softball-sized balls of single white flowers, and some are quite beautiful. This species is the bottom half (the trunk, usually, though some a grafted at the ground) of almost all (with some exceptions) of the old cherry trees around except for 'Somei-yoshino'. Most of the cultivars have been grafted, and the practice was to start a robust, fast growing mazzard cherry, cut of the top and replace that with the almost always more delicate ornamental cultivar.

    You can see the mis-match everywhere, often accompanied by diseased areas. What you also see are trees where the robust mazzard root stock has managed to send up its own shoots, either from the trunk or from the roots. This leads to a very common local phenomenon - the two-coloured tree, (often) half dark pink double 'Kanzan' blossoms and half single white mazzard blossoms. If you look, you will see one. Carina, the festival's general manager, sent me a photo today of her first sighting:

    In more recent years, other trees have been used as rootstock. There are a fair number of trees of the 'Colt' cultivar (also not in our book) that started life as the rootstock of some other cultivar. In both cases, with no intervention, the rootstock will take over the whole tree. There are plenty of streets that have trees that are pink - pink - pink - pink - white - pink - pink. The white one almost certainly started out pink.

    If you don't have a two-toned tree to tell you what these mazzard cherries look like, look for the sepals (the green stars on the back of the flowers) that are curled back against the calyx (check the diagram in our book), so that when you look from the top of the flower with light coming through, you see a circle instead of a star. Also check the leaf margins - the mazzard cherry leaves have uneven scalloped edges. If you find one of the two-tones, compare the leaves from a white branch and a pink branch.

    Regarding the map and those double pink late-blooming 'Kanzan' cherries, there are a LOT of these trees around. We don't need every one on our map, particularly if they are ugly - can I say that a cherry can be ugly? It's not like a baby - all babies are beautiful, but really, not all cherries are. If you think a 'Kanzan' you found is on its last legs, will be a mazzard in the next few years, has been pruned to look like some other life form, there is no need to have this on our map. Even a single 'Kanzan', unless it's very lovely, doesn't need to be on the map. I would make an exception if a 'Kanzan' tree is a rare find in your neighbourhood (and gosh, where is that?).
  2. Nina Shoroplova

    Nina Shoroplova Member

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    Vancouver West End
    Two trees growing one either side of the north fence around the Vancouver Aquarium are Prunus avium, from root stock to the top of the tree. I took these photos on April 24. They were quite gorgeous, covered with blossoms when I took their photo, and demonstrating your identification clues perfectly, Wendy.

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