Washington Post may not know cherry trees 1200 years ago was another kind of cherry trees. Today we have so many Somei-Yoshino from Tokyo (exactly Edo at that time); Somei-Yoshino was made about 150 years ago at Somay village in Edo by gardeners.
Anyway I can enjoy nice warm March this year. Somei-Yoshino is full bloom now.
Found the article an interesting read, so thanks, hfot2, for the link. In the last para, the author quotes a phenologist as saying: Another key concern is that very early flowering can lead to mismatches in the presence of the open flowers and the presence of the pollinators dependent upon the flowers as a food source. Bees are a key pollinator for cherry trees, and if bees were not active at the time of the very early cherry flowering this past spring in Japan, the trees may have had poor pollination. In addition, those bees may be going hungry without the cherry flowers as a food resource when they do become active.
That drove me to do some google-search on the pollination of cherry blossoms like a 10y/o kid. ; ) Long story short, unlike its many siblings, the somei yoshino requires another breed to reproduce, or, technically, to cross, since they are all *clones,* where pollens from the same kin stamens repulse pistils, a phenomenon called “self-incompatibility.” So they don’t bear fruits, hence no reproduction fulfilled, except when pollens from ANOTHER breed are borne to the pistils via bees or other insects or winds. Oh yes, come to think of it, you never seen or heard, have you, nature take its own course for somei yoshinos to grow another? They need a human aid (plant-cutting) for their artificial reproduction.
Back on topic:
I guess one would be amazed to know that they already kept record of blooming dates even before the Columbus era. That implies hanamis, cherry blossom viewing parties, already became an in-thing, at least among court nobles, who cared for fleeting beauty overlapping with their lives. One could see a prototype of the Japanese psyche there: beauty must have its day, but at the same time it has to perish somewhere down the road. Sorry for my narrative, but it’s my pet talk to my guests. ; )
Btw, how should one know they did keep the record really, then? No word processors or pc’s or photos in those days… Papers you make from pulp using hard water (plus chlorine in the case of tap water), easily gets tinted in brownish red, you know, as they get older… The secret lies in traditional Japanese paper, called washi. Compared to modern paper, washi paper excels in durability and strength. Believe it or not, archives of washi, by that I mean more-than-a-millennium old documents, have been pretty much in shape still now. A few years back I saw one being exhibited in the annual autumn event held at Nara National Museum, where spick'n--span kanji letters dictating things of the Nara Period neatly fills an un-discolored sheet of washi paper, a jaw-dropping stuff.
>>>I guess one would be amazed to know that they already kept record of blooming dates even before the Columbus era. <<<
Not really. The cherry shrine in north-west Kyoto (Hirano-jinja) has (or had) the longest running annual festival in Japan so not too surprising that they kept some records. It was a shame that a typhoon a couple of years back (2018) toppled one of the large trees into the main hall closing it for repairs. They have some early varieties on site and in my visits there over the years, no tourists - just a few people taking photos and visiting the shrine.
But, I also read this week that hanami was not for cherry blossom, but originally plum blossom viewing. The development of the more recent tradition of cherry blossom viewing is, well, more recent.
On somei yoshino - I always knew it as a sterile hybrid. A late addition to the hundreds of varieties of cherry tree.
>>But, I also read this week that hanami was not for cherry blossom, but originally plum blossom viewing.<<
Seems like so in the (ancient) Nara Period; yet, as decades went by, indigenous (non-somei yoshino) sakura took its place, becoming a herald of the new era, the Heian Period.
>>On somei yoshino - I always knew it as a sterile hybrid.<<
Up until late, I thought like somei yoshinos are self-seed, thus in theory can enjoy natural growth without human hands. ;)
According to Wikipedia; Somei-Yoshino is cross-breeded manually. One kind of tree is Ohshima-S(Z)akura. Cross-breeding of trees might have done with pollens, but not seeds. Dont know the correct terminology though, I know we have several Ohshima-sakura trees at Fushimi, near the campus of formerly Fushimi technology high. Flowers are very similar to Somei-Yoshino. However color of flower is white. Missed taking photos again this year. It began to bloom earlier than Somei-Yoshino.
U-Tube, William-san linked, has not got into Heian Shrine! Heihan Shrine garden has a weeping Yae garden which may not be bloomed at that time.
still dont know what exactly the sakura 1200 years ago. We still have Senbon (thousand trees) street where used to be the street with 1000 of sakura tree row, may be during Heian-era about 1000 years ago, but today no sakura at all there.
thank you for your thread.