Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ancient Cherry Blossoms

(At right, photo of the blossoms of a cherry tree in East Potomac Park)

The Washington Post had a fantastic article in today's Metro section about how a member of the National Park Service thinks he may have found the remaining "original" cherry blossom trees from 1910. Since WaPo will not let you access the article without a membership, I'll summarize briefly.

Though the Japanese Embassy had presented the city with 2,000 trees back in 1910, all but a handful were burned due to disease and insect infestation. A second and more healthy shipment of cherry trees arrived in 1912, becoming the foundation of today's Cherry Blossom Festival. But what happened to the handful of remaining trees? A newspaper article following the burn said that about 24 surviving trees had been planted in an experimental plot. No one knows where that plot might be until now...

National Park Service cherry blossom expert Rob DeFeo has located 18 cherry trees in East Potomac Park near Hains Point. The trees are gnarled and have rooted in themselves, something they only do as they get extremely old. They are also y-shaped, probably from early pruning. DeFeo researched the area and notes that East Potomac Park belonged to the Bureau of Plant Industry in 1910. This and other evidence leads DeFeo to conclude that this grove holds the original trees. Mystery solved? I think so.

Thank you Washington Post for covering the Cherry Blossom Festival, so that we here at Ten Miles Square don't have to-- we're not huge fans...there are crowds...traffic jams...litter...tourists with fannypacks...someone help us please...

Source: Michael Ruane, "Century-Old Mystery Blooms In Grove of D.C. Cherry Trees," The Washington Post (April 2, 2009).

No comments:

Post a Comment