Prunus x yedoensis is a species of flowering cherry widely grown in Japan, and often known as the Yoshino cherry. Its wide-spreading habit and elegant simple white flowers on bare branches seem to evoke the essence of spring in Japan.
The blossom has a characteristic almond-like scent. The single flowers have white petals, sometimes with a slight pink tinge, and prominent centres. Although not as gaudy as the semi-double and double flowered cherries, the effect of such a mass or white flowers on a mature tree is quite striking.
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Prunus x yedoensis is a hybrid flowering cherry species, possibly related to Prunus serrulata or Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella. It has many names, including Yoshino Cherry and Somei-Yoshino.
It was introduced to Europe and the USA in the early 20th century and is widely grown. In 1912 two thousand cherry trees were presented to the city of Washington as a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo, of which a large proportion were Yoshino cherry trees. As a result cherry blossom is a particular feature of spring in Washington DC - more details can be found in this article on the National Park Service website.
The species has a great natural variability, and there are several popular cultivars, including weeping forms.