I love the few weeks in the year when these trees on my street here in Berkeley burst into masses of pink blossoms. They had not bloomed when I looked a few days ago, but today there they were in all their glory. I’m glad I caught them before the petals blanketed the sidewalk, which is pretty too, in its own way.
I mistakenly thought these were cherry blossoms for years until our neighbor George identified them as plum trees.
I decided to find out what the differences were between plum and cherry blossoms. Despite its less-than-perfect English, this Japanese travel and culture website clearly spells it all out. Apparently you can’t tell them apart by the color because both plum and cherry blossoms come in a range of colors from white to dark pink.
The main distinctions involve petal shape, leaf color, and the bark. Petals on a cherry blossom are split on the end, whereas the plum’s petals are fully round. The plum tree has reddish purple leaves, as opposed to a cherry tree’s foliage, which is green. And the bark of the cherry tree is lighter and has horizontal lines.
The shape of the buds and the fragrance differ too, but who needs more than three things to look for?
Originally I had planned to simply post a picture of the plum tree in full blossom and not write a thing, allowing the beauty of the flowers to speak for themselves. But after learning how to differentiate the two, I wanted to share what I’d learned because maybe I wasn’t the last person on Earth to know how to tell the two apart!