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Prunus tomentosa Thunb.

Downy Cherry

Modern name

Prunus tomentosa Thunb.

A deciduous shrub of spreading habit 4 to 8 ft high and twice as wide; branchlets covered densely with a close, pale down. Leaves obovate or oblong, with an abrupt point, 2 to 3 in. long, 34 to 112 in. wide, toothed, dark dull green, and furnished with scattered hairs above, paler and densely woolly beneath. Flowers 34 in. across, white, tinted with rose, produced singly or in pairs at the joints of the previous year’s growth, each on a stalk 16 in. long. Fruit bright red, about the size of a small cherry, slightly hairy, ripe in July. Bot. Mag., t. 8196.

Native of N. and W. China, but introduced from Japan around 1870. It usually flowers about the fourth week in March, and is then an object of great beauty and charm. Shoots from 1 to 2 ft long are made in one season, and these the following spring are furnished from end to end with the delicately tinted flowers. It must be said, however, that its beauty is short-lived. The petals are fragile and easily fall, so that if sharp rain-storms or harsh winds are prevalent (as often happens when they are expanding), their full beauty is never displayed. Some sheltered nook should be chosen for it, a consideration to which its early blossoms entitle it. The fruits are not freely produced with us, although about Peking the shrub is cultivated for their sake. Propagated by layers and cuttings of half-ripened wood.

P. tomentosa has been collected in the Valley of Kashmir and in Ladakh, but these specimens may have come from cultivated plants. At any rate, it is not a native of the Himalaya as a whole, as is sometimes stated in reference books.



Other species in the genus