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Know your blossoms: 6 facts to know about UW’s cherry trees

Happy first day of spring, everyone. The weather’s getting warmer — and our city’s about to burst into full color. As the Seattle bloom approaches, we wanted to take a moment to get a little geeky about one of the heralds of Seattle spring: the cherry trees in University of Washington’s quadrangle, which reached peak bloom yesterday.

Here’s a little horticultural history on this Seattle spring destination to share with friends the next time you find yourself talking about this lovely season:

1. The number of flowers depends on the weather.

(📸: UW Photo)

The trees, which are a Yoshino cherry varietal (Prunus × yedoensis) from Japan, flower faster when it’s warm, according to UW reps. If the temperature drops below 50ºF, the buds will open more slowly.

2. They’ve been around since before World War II.

(📸: @hola_moto)

The trees were planted in 1936, making them nearly 90 years old. The United States’ first-ever Japanese cherry trees arrived just 24 years prior, first landing in Seattle before being sent by train to Washington D.C.

3. The trees weren’t always on campus.

(📸: UW Photo)

When construction on Highway 520 began in the ‘60s, the trees were transplanted from the Washington Park Arboretum to the quad. Wanna make a day of seeing the flowers? Use this handy map to guide yourself to more than 200 cherry trees on the UW campus.

4. The UW quad’s trees have been cloned.

(📸: @dannyngan)

Arborists took cuttings from the trees around 2005 to grew them in a greenhouse in Skagit Valley. Seattleites can see those clones today — right on campus. The newer cuttings are growing on the lawn outside Parrington Hall.

5. You can watch the trees bloom even if you can’t make it in person.


Watch the trees bloom without making the drive (or having an allergy attack) by checking the university’s live cherry blossom cam.

6. UW’s cherry trees send tweets.

Follow them on Twitter at @uwcherryblossom for all the flowery updates.