White blossom of Japanese cherry
Prunus serrulata

Japanese cherry

Family: Rosaceae
Other common names: 山樱 (Chinese, simplified), 山櫻 (Chinese, traditional), Japansk kirsebær (Danish), Japanse sierkers (Dutch), flowering cherry (English), Japanese hill cherry (English), cerisier des collines (French), cerisier du Japon (French), Japanische blütenkirsche (German), サトザクラ類(園芸種)(Japanese), 벚나무 (Korean), Japansk kirsebær (Norwegian), sakura (Norwegian), wiśnia piłkowana (Polish), cerejeira Sakura (Portuguese), вишня мелкопильчатая (Russian), cerezo de flor japonés (Spanish), japanskt körsbär (Swedish)
IUCN Red List status: Not Evaluated

Spring would not be complete without stunning displays of dainty white and pink Japanese cherry blossoms.

Thousands of people gather each year in Japan to view these spectacular blooms at world-famous cherry blossom festivals.

Sakura is the Japanese word for flowering cherry trees and cherry blossom.

Japanese cherry is a tree with a short trunk and dense crown. It has smooth, brown bark and green, serrated leaves that turn yellow or red in autumn. The white to pink flowers grow in clusters, and the fruit are round and black.

Read the scientific profile on Japanese cherry


Cherry blossoms are considered the national flower of Japan. They herald the start of spring and symbolise life, good health, and happiness.

During the cherry blossom season in Japan, thousands of people gather to view the stunning flowers of Japanese cherry trees, a tradition called ‘hanami’ ('flower viewing'). Cherry blossom festivals known as ‘sakura matsuri’ are held across the country.

Japanese cherry is a popular ornamental tree both in its native countries and in temperate regions across the world. 

  • A great white cherry (Prunus 'Taihaku') grows next to the Gateway in our Japanese Landscape. This species was thought to be extinct in Japan in the 1920s when an English plant collector, Collingwood Ingram, matched a tree growing in Sussex to a Japanese painting of a white cherry.

  • Japanese cherry trees only blossom for a short period of time, so diverse varieties with different flowering times are often planted together to prolong the blossoming period.

Map of the world showing where Japanese  cherry is native and introduced to
Native: China South-Central, China Southeast, Korea, Manchuria
Introduced: New Zealand North

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.


Cherry Walk that runs from the Rose Garden behind the Palm House to the Mediterranean Garden.

View map of Kew Gardens
Best time to see
Flowers: Mar, Apr, May

Other plants

More from Kew


Browse our cherry blossom products. Buying something from the Kew Online Shop supports our vital science work.

The geographical areas mentioned on this page follow the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) developed by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).