The Blossom Biology workshop took place at the VanDusen Botanical Garden classroom in the evening of April 11, 2013.

Douglas Justice, a technical advisor for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, came in with a bucket full of cherry blossoms that he had collected from the garden!

He started the session with a presentation during which we learnt about:

  1. Resources
  2. Cherry look-alike
  3. Photographing cultivars for ID purposes
  4. How to use the dichotomus key
  5. Important identification features
  6. Common cultivars
Blossom Biology with Justice Douglas (April 11, 2013)

Then, he laid out the various cultivars of cherry blossoms on the table and we got to see them up close and identify them.

Blossom Biology with Justice Douglas (April 11, 2013)

I’ve learnt a lot about cherry trees. Did you know that 80% of cherry trees are grafted? It’s a nursery practice to take a seedling cherry and to graft it to a stomp (from which many branches will grow). This explains the odd appearance of the trunk.

Blossom Biology with Justice Douglas (April 11, 2013)

Are you able to identify the different types of cherry blossoms in that bucket?

  • Tai Haku, aka Great White Cherry (top right, green leaves and big white flowers… up to 5 cm large!)
  • Beni-shidare, aka weeping cherry (at the very top, teeny tiny pink flowers, they’re the most common in the garden)
  • Yae-beni-shidare, aka double weeping cherry  (left side, branch of dark pink blossoms drooping)
  • Akebono
  • Japanese flowering cherries
  • Kiku-shidare-zakura, aka chrysanthemum cherry
  • and many more.

There are 35 cherries in the book Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver but Douglas Justice says they’ve identified 20 more cultivars since.  Aren’t we lucky to have so many cherry trees in Vancouver?

Tip: For more information about cherry tree identification and other things we’ve learnt at the workshop, type “Blossom Biology” in the search box on the left to view other posts on the subject.