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Monday, April 23, 2012

Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' - Kwanzan Flowering Cherry

The Kwanzan cherry tree is one of the most popular of the many Japanese Flowering Cherries. It's distinct upright V shape also makes it easy to recognize and easy to use in landscapes. Growth is medium to 20-30' tall with a 15-20' spread. If you are lucky you bought one with Prunus serrula grafted as the interstock so you have a nice purplish exfoliating bark that adds interest year round. This cultivar is a good choice for streets as it has a form that allows it to be out of the way of pedestrians yet still be small and have great flowers.

The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to elliptical shaped, emerging with a nice bronze tinge in spring, changing to a medium green after growing to its final size. Margins are very finely serrated and the tip is long and pointed. Like all cherries, it has a gland on the petiole.

On rapidly growing stems you will see funny little leaf like structures called stipules. They look like an insect ate most of the leaf.

Cherries have obvious lenticels, on young and older stems. On young ones they are rounded and look like slightly raised glands. On older stems and trunks they form longitudinally arranged bands.

The flowers are why we plant Japanese cherries anyway, and these are especially nice. They are double, dark pink, about an inch in diameter and emerge before the foliage.

An added bonus is the beautiful fall color, usually a pretty yellow orange color.

There is a selection of this cultivar that retains its bronze colored leaves called 'Royal Burgundy'. There is a small one on Morrissey Blvd near Soquel Drive, actually next to the large canary island palm, corner of Melrose and Morrissey.

Misidentification: Double purple flowers, distinct V shape habit make it easily identifiable.

Santa Cruz : downtown on Pacific Ave.

Aptos: Cabrillo College along Soquel Drive.

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