Earlier this year I was trying to figure out how to grow Japanese cherry blossom trees, but ultimately ended up failing and have put that project on hiatus, as it takes 4-5 months of stratification. In my case, the seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a Ziplock bag within the bowels of my refrigerator at ~5-6˚C. These trees are found all over the world, from Hyde Park in Toronto to Washington DC in the USA and most famously they are found in Japan, where they were initially popularized!
So where do I begin? My admiration for this amazing plant started when I was first introduced to Japanese anime, manga and even some Hollywood movies such as The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise (it was based on a true story)!
Cherry blossoms are a variety of species and subspecies of deciduous tree in the Prunus genus, as they produce stone fruit. Cherry blossom trees are famous for producing flowers that range from white to pink in color. There are more than 100 species of cherry blossom in Japan alone. These trees are native to Eurasia; specifically, their origin is from the Himalayan mountain region. This famous plant has been introduced throughout China, Japan hundreds to thousands of years ago, and Korea (by the Japanese during WWII), thus leading to the incredible variety that we enjoy today (I wouldn’t blame them)! I will focus more on the Japanese aspect of popularization.
The Japanese started it all, they popularized the trees by having royal feasts during the Heian period (794-1185) under the blooming trees, this ceremony was called Hanami (flower viewing), nowadays it is more like a picnic under the trees. These the blooming of the cherry blossom was significant in Japanese culture, as it prompted farmers to begin planting rice, hence the tradition of associating a new life with the bloom. During the ancient Heian Period, it was thought that these beautiful trees contained spirits and thus rice wine was a popular offering (coincidence, I think not)! I always thought that humans always influence the earth and living organisms (#Anthropocene), but I was wrong, the cherry blossom is an excellent example of a plant shaping humans instead of the other way around.
Until next time, Barry out!
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