A deciduous tree up to 40 or 50 ft high, of rounded, spreading habit, shortly trunked, usually wider than high; young shoots thinly clothed with soft hairs. Leaves oval, broadly ovate or obovate, rounded or broadly wedge-shaped at the base, rather abruptly narrowed to a slender point, doubly toothed, 21⁄2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. wide, dark green and glabrous above, downy on the midrib and veins beneath. Flowers borne in late March or early April, slightly fragrant, white or pink, produced in racemes of four or more, usually before (but sometimes with) the leaves; flower-stalks and calyx dull red, usually densely downy, but less so on young trees; calyx-tube cylindrical, lobes sharply toothed. Style either very downy or nearly glabrous. Fruits shining black, globose, 2⁄5 in. wide, bitter. Bot. Mag., t. 9062.
According to Wilson, the origin of this cherry is doubtful. It is planted abundantly in Tokyo and Yokohama, where it is known as the ‘Yoshino Cherry’, but has not yet been found wild. It may be a hybrid between P. speciosa and P. subhirtella. Wilson describes it as ‘remarkably distinct from all other Japanese or Chinese cherries and one of the most floriferous and beautiful of them’. It is perfectly hardy and grows vigorously, attaining a spread of about 40 ft. A.G.M. 1930.
About 1910 it was obtained from Germany and was grown as “P. paracerasus” at Kew, but was rare until the late 1920s, when large numbers were imported or raised in this country. It varies in the amount of pubescence on the undersurface of the leaf; sometimes the midrib and veins are densely covered with tawny down. In regard to habit, too, some trees are more erect and less spreading than others. If the tree is truly of hybrid origin, the fact that some of the stock now in nurseries has been raised from seed might account for this diversity.
cv. ‘Ivensii’. – Main branches arching horizontally, branchlets slender and weeping. Flowers white. A seedling of P. × yedoensis raised by Messrs Hillier.
f. perpendens Wils. Shidare Yoshino, Weeping Yoshino Cherry. – Branches pendulous.
P. ‘Moerheimii’. – Of pendulous habit, usually seen as a shrub, but probably making a small weeping tree if top-grafted. Although put into commerce as P. incisa moerheimii it is not a cultivar of that species, but is very near to P. × yedoensis. Flowers pale pink fading to white, about 1⁄2 in. across. Pedicels and calyx with a few spreading hairs; sepals irregularly toothed; bracts oblanceolate, jaggedly toothed; style glabrous.
P. ‘Pink Shell’. – Petals shell-pink at first, fading to a lighter shade, spreading-erect, the corolla hence cup-shaped, about 3⁄4 in. wide at the mouth. The flowers are borne in mid-April, three to five in a corymbose inflorescence, on slender hairy pedicels; calyx-tube narrow-campanulate, glabrous. A charming cherry, probably a seedling of P. × yedoensis, named by Messrs Hillier. A.M. 1969.
Other seedlings of P. xyedoensis are ‘Yoshino Pink Form’, raised by Messrs Waterer, Sons and Crisp, which also has flowers of a charming shade of pink, but borne later than in ‘Pink Shell’; and ‘Akebono’, raised in the USA by W. B. Clarke of California. The latter has apparently never been introduced to Britain, though the raiser thought highly of it.