Prunus Avium are sweet cherry, also called Mazzard Cherry.
Prunus avium are easily recognizable by the recurved sepals (which means the leafy part that would usually cover the back of the flowers, like a star shape, is sticking up instead).
Prunus Avium can be pretty, but we don’t consider them ornamental. They’re the European tree that’s used as the rootstock for a lot of our ornamental cherries, and cultivars of which provide the cherries we eat (like the “Bing” cherries).
Usually they come out at ‘Kanzan’ time, so you can see lots of trees that are half pink, half white, where the vigorous white avium rootstock trunk is starting to take over the ‘Kanzan’ on top. The two-tone trees are mid-takeover.
You’ll also see a street of pink ‘Kanzan’ with one white avium tree. That avium probably started life as a ‘Kanzan’.
For more description, see
Prunus Avium – Small singles, green leaves, large round tree, mid to late season
Prunus Avium can be even more beautiful than ‘Akebono’ because generally they’re not grafted (well, in orchards, they’re grafted, as there are all those different eating cherry cultivars).
There are lots of other things to confuse them with – Sargentii hybrids (not in our book), O-yama-zakura (in our book as Sargentii), ‘Somei-yoshino’, but those trees usually bloom earlier than avium trees.
Some people may confuse them with ‘Tai Haku’, but that cultivar’s flowers are much larger. More likely, you will confuse them with pears and crab apples. Look at the bark, and look at the back of the blossoms.
Avium is not in our book, but you’ll find a photo of Avium ‘Plena’, the double-flower variety, in Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver.
(Source: information provided by Wendy Cutler).
To find out if there are prunus avium in your neighborhood, check out the VCBF cherry blossom viewing map.