Kanzan is an old Japanese word from classical poetry, meaning bordering the mountain. It evokes memories of the ideal picturesque village with mountain backdrop having an almost sorrowful nostalgic meaning of, “I remember the little village of my youth.”
With attractive deep-pink double flowers, the Kanzan Cherry tree, Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ , is glorious during its profuse and showy spring bloom. In fact, it is considered to be one of the most ornamental of the flowering cherries. I think from the photographs below you can see why! Kanzan Cherry is known for being a late bloomer, in 2019 the tree started to show blossoms during the week of April 15th.
The bark of the Kanzan Cherry tree is thin, smooth, reddish to bronze, and glossy with very prominent horizontal lenticels. Lenticels allow gas exchange between the air and internal tissues. The leaves have a serrated edge and are often reddish-copper as they emerge, turning dark green by summer, and finally yellow, orange, or bronze in the autumn.
In August of 2019 we were delighted to find a finger sized bright green Polyphemus moth caterpillar climbing one of the branches. Cherry trees are considered host trees for that species of caterpillar. It is likely the caterpillar hatched from an egg that a female moth laid on a leaf of the tree and it had been eating leaves to grow and in preparation to spin a silk cocoon so that it could undergo metamorphosis and become a moth!
April is the perfect time to enjoy cherry tree blossoms in all of their glory. Check out the Pittsburgh Sakura Project website to find a map showing where you can see up to ten different types of cherry trees at North Park. The word sakura means flowering cherry tree. Bring binoculars and a magnifying glass for a more in-depth experience.
Take a look at some books on the topic of cherry trees. I recommend Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston and illustrated by Misa Saburi for children
For adults The Sakura Obsession: The Incredible Story of the Plant Hunter Who Saved Japan’s Cherry Blossoms by Naoko Abe.
Learn more about all the Trees of Bayne Park and explore our Interactive Bayne Park Tree Map to see the locations, photographs, and names of over a dozen different species of trees. Be sure to also visit our Treesources page to learn about local trees, caring for trees, and more.
Written by Linda, Spring 2020