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10 Types of Ornamental Cherry Trees

Bring on the cherry blossoms! Find the perfect ornamental cherry tree for your outdoor space with inspiration from the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Here are 10 varieties you can spot at the event.

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Photo: Shutterstock

Beautiful Blossoming Cherry Trees

Every spring, more than a million visitors flock to Washington, D.C., to see thousands of flowering cherry trees in bloom at the National Cherry Blossom Festival. First held in 1934, this event commemorates a 1912 gift of cherry trees from the mayor of Tokyo to the US capital. Today, more than 3,700 ornamental cherry trees in several varieties grace the city, including Yoshino cherry trees, Kwanzan cherry trees and weeping cherry trees.

If you want to bring the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival home, get to know these types of flowering cherry trees and consider planting one or more in your yard. They’ll add a brilliant splash of color in the spring with their white to deep pink blooms, and some varieties offer great fall color as well. Cherry trees can grow in USDA Zones 5 to 8 (or 5 to 9 in the West), and most types reach 20 to 30 feet in height. Be sure to choose one that will thrive in your location and landscape.

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Photo: National Park Service

Yoshino Cherry

In 1912, Japan gifted Washington, D.C., 12 different types of cherry trees; today, the Yoshino is one the most prevalent in D.C., numbering around 2,600, or 70% of all cherry trees. They’re distinguished by clusters of single white blossoms, creating a cotton-ball effect, with the showstopping majority located along the Tidal Basin. This variety is beloved in Japan, and its flowers emit a pleasant almond scent.

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Kwanzan Cherry

Besides Yoshino, Kwanzan is the other popular variety you’ll find in D.C., and 414 dominate in East Potomac Park alone. Named after a Japanese mountain, it blooms about two weeks after the Yoshino, and its pink double blossoms almost resemble carnations.

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Photo: National Park Service

Akebono Cherry

The Akebono blooms about the same time as the Yoshino; more than 100 Akebono trees are interspersed mostly among the Yoshino trees in the Tidal Basin, with a few in East Potomac Park. Look for them near the John Ericsson Memorial. The pale pink Akebono cherries are actually a mutation of the Yoshino and were cultivated in 1920.

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