CitySights DC

Everything to Know About the Washington DC Cherry Trees

Spring is a beautiful time of year in the nation’s capital, and one of the reasons is because of the blossoming of the cherry trees. Because the flowers on this tree are so spectacular, the trees are often grown for their pretty pink blooms rather than for their fruit. Over a million visitors flock to DC to see the trees burst into their springtime color, celebrating with a festival of events to honor the splendor. Read on to find out everything to know about the Washington DC cherry trees.

History of the Trees in DC

Japan gave the United States 3,020 cherry trees in 1912 as a gesture of friendship. Cherry trees are important in Japanese culture, as the blooms represent the nature of life. President Taft’s wife and the Japanese Ambassador’s wife planted a couple of the very first trees. Those two trees can be found today growing near 17th Street by the John Paul Jones statue. Gardeners planted the remaining trees around East Potomac Park and Tidal Basin.

Best Times to See Blooms

Cherry blossoms emerge from their buds in mid-March and continue to open through April. The National Park Service predicts that the trees will be at peak bloom on March 23rd and continue profuse blooming for another week to 10 days. This year’s peak bloom dates are a bit ahead of the average. While the parks are quite full of visitors during the daytime, some people like to wait till dark to check out the flowers. Although visibility isn’t quite as good in the evenings, there are some areas that are well lit; plus flash photography can illuminate the beauty in pictures.

National Cherry Blossom Festival

The first two-week Cherry Blossom Festival took place in the early 1990s, and it continues on today. The dates for the 2016 festival are March 20 through April 17, and during this time period many events will take place. There will be fireworks, a parade, cultural performances, sports competitions, art exhibits, and foods prepared to fit the cherry-blossom theme. Most events are free to the public, although a few charge admission fees.

Location of Cherry Trees

There are three main areas in Washington, DC where cherry trees blossom, although there are other spots around DC where trees bloom, as well. The most popular locations to view the spectacle are:

Tidal Basin: There are approximately 3,750 cherry trees in Tidal Basin, which is a man-made recreational space adjacent to the Potomac River.
East Potomac Park: This park is a large peninsula of land located between the Potomac and the Washington Channel.
Surrounding the Washington Monument: Cherry trees grow on the grounds near the monument, which is an obelisk built to honor the first U.S. President, George Washington.

Types of Cherry Trees

There are many different kinds of cherry trees. Some are cultivated to grow fruit, while others are ornamental. Although most of the trees in the Washington, DC area are Yoshino Cherry trees, there are multiple other varieties, such as:

• Kwanzan Cherry
• Okame Cherry
• Akebono Cherry
• Weeping Japanese Cherry
• Sargent Cherry
• Fugenzo Cherry
• Autumn Flowering Cherry
• Shirofugen Cherry
• Afterglow Cherry

Cherry trees and their blossoms are an important part of the DC springtime culture. Read up on everything to know about the Washington DC cherry trees, and then plan to visit them in person.


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