“Break open A cherry tree And there are no flowers; But the spring breeze Brings forth such myriad blossoms!”
What an apt remark made by Ikkyu, the 15th century Zen Buddhist monk and poet from Japan.
I have been keenly observing these mesmerizingly beautiful and yet mysterious flowering trees since a couple of years now in America.
Last year, I had spotted these gorgeous blooms at a place short distance from home, during some days of early March. It felt like they had appeared from nowhere, all of a sudden, after long months of winter.
I will visit them after few days at my own leisure, I had thought.
Alas, after few days, the pink blossoms were simply not there any more, they had all fallen it seemed.
But again, after some days, I had spotted the same tree, with the similar looking flowers, but white in color!
It turned out that these magical flowers change colors in a very short span of time!
Before they bloom, their buds appear in a dark pink color. Then they make the progression to pale pink when they start to bloom, however there are no leaves to be seen. In their final stages of bloom, they are white, and at that stage, they also have tender green leaves on the branches.
After knowing this, I had decided last year, that next year, I will catch these pink beauties as soon as they start to bloom and capture photos of their blushing hues in all its glory.
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Here are Five curious facts about cherry blossom trees you want to know!
1. An individual tree remains in bloom for only a week or two… at max!
Well, I can vouch for this one! As I narrated my experience above, I have seen those flowers vanishing…like, in thin air!
2. They actually produce cherries!
They are not called “cherry blossoms” for nothing. In summer, they actually have tiny, sour tasting cherries on them, but they are too sour for humans to enjoy or eat, however, birds totally relish them!
3. Cherry blossoms symbolize impermanence of life!
Japan’s culture is rich in Buddhist philosophy as well as mythologies about nature. These flowers are at the center of Japanese worship of nature. There, Cherry blossoms represent the transient, inconstant nature of life.
For samurais in Japan — for whom early death was a matter of pride are known to have cherished these flowers as symbols of a life that was short, but powerful.
What a beautiful symbolism! Isn’t it?
Can you guess Japan’s national flower? No prizes there! :)
4. They are much stronger than you might think!
Don’t get misguided by their delicate beauty!
Cherry blossom trees may look svelte but they can actually split a mammoth rock into half !
Can’t believe? See the photo below:
It is said that this tree, known as “Ishiwarizakura”, in the Morioka district of Japan, took root in a small crack in a rock and gradually, it grew so large , that it split the huge rock into two…
According to webpage of Morioka,
Ishiwarizakura (Rock-Splitting Cherry Tree) is on the grounds of the Morioka district court facing the main street in Uchimaru, the government district of Morioka. Just like its name, rising out of a crack in a huge granite boulder that measures 23 meters in circumference, and 1.7 meters high, this unique tree stands 10 meters high with the girth of its roots at a sizable 4.3 meters. This “edohigan” cherry tree is said to be 360 years old. While it is a very old tree, each year visitors are impressed with the vibrant, perfectly formed cherry blossoms that adorn the tree.
5. They originated in Himalayas, not Japan!
In United States, today cherry blossom trees might be the most widespread planted ornamental trees, but their plantings in US started in 1912 for the very first time as a gift of friendship from Japan.
But they are not native to Japan too! According to scholars & researchers on the subject, these trees were originated in Himalayan regions of Eurasia, before they got migrated to Japan thousands of years ago.