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Prunus speciosa (Koidz.) Ingram

Oshima Cherry

Modern name

Prunus speciosa (Koidz.) Ingram


P. jamasakura var. speciosa Koidz.; P. serrulata var. serrulata f. albida Makino; P. lannesiana f. albida (Mak.) Wils.; P. mutabilis f. speciosa Miyoshi

A small deciduous tree with stout branches and a pale, smooth bark; young shoots glabrous, becoming pale shining grey by the autumn. Leaves usually tinged with brown as they unfold, glabrous, ovate or obovate, 3 to 5 in. long, slenderly acuminate at the apex, the margins set with single or double bristle-tipped teeth. Flowers single, fragrant, white, 1 to 112 in. wide, produced during May in corymbose racemes whose main stalk is 1 to 3 in. long. The individual flowers are on stalks about 1 in. long, springing from the axils of conspicuous, obovate, fringed bracts about 12 in. long. Fruits egg-shaped, black, shining, about the size of a pea.

A native of Japan, where it is commonly planted, and occurs wild on Oshima (de Vries Island) and other islands of the Izu Archipelago, and on the adjacent mainland. It is little known in this country in its normal wild form, but many of the Japanese ornamental cherries (Sato Zakura) derive from it.

A double form of P. speciosa is known as ‘Yae-oshima’ (P. lannesiana f. donarium (Koidz.) Wils.)

P. lannesiana (Carr.) Wils. Cerasus lannesiana Carr. – The cherry which Carrière named Cerasus lannesiana in 1873 had been sent to the Jardin d’ Acclimatation, Paris, in 1870 by a M. Lannes of Montebello. The description was made from a potted plant about 114 ft high – not a very satisfactory type for a name that has been so much used. Despite the reasonably good colour plate, the identity of P. lannesiana is far from certain. Wilson considered it to be simply a pink-flowered form of the Oshima cherry, described above. If that were indeed the case, the name P. speciosa would have to give way to P. lannesiana, which has long priority, and the wild Oshima cherry would have to be treated as the white-flowered form of P. lannesiana, taking the name P. lannesiana f. albida (Koidz.) Wils.

However, it is by no means certain that Wilson’s identification is correct. Collingwood Ingram has suggested that P. lannesiana is really the same as P. sargentii with which it agrees in having an umbellate inflorescence (in P. speciosa it is corymbose). It accordingly seems best to leave the name P. lannesiana in abeyance. For the Japanese ornamental cherries which Wilson placed under P. lannesiana see Index.

P. ‘Umineko’. – Flowers white, about 114 in. wide, single, in stalked umbels, borne in April together with the green unfolding leaves; filaments of stamens becoming pink as the flower ages. Of fastigiate habit when young, later more spreading. A hybrid between P. speciosa and P. incisa raised by Collingwood Ingram. A.M. 1928. Umineko is the Japanese name for the white-tailed sea-eagle.

The same cross was made in Holland by Mr Doorenbos and has yielded an almost identical tree, recently named ‘Snow Goose’.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

An interesting analysis of the contribution made by this species to the development of the Sato Zakura will be found in the Manual of Japanese Flowering Cherries, pp. 37-40. Trees growing wild on the islands south of the Izu peninsula are very variable and show many of the characters of the Sato Zakura, including some, such as red or bronze young foliage, usually attributed to the influence of P. serrulata var. spontanea, the hill cherry.



Other species in the genus