Shogetsu versus Shirofugen

Shogetsu cherry blossom

How can you tell the different between Shogetsu and Shirofugen cherry trees?

They both have white double-flowers and they bloom at the same time in Vancouver (just about now), so how can you identify them?

I decided to put my cherry scout training in practice and try to identify a white cherry tree  blooming on my street. I quickly determined that it was Shogetsu (as opposed to a Shirofugen). Here’s why:

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Emerging leaves:  When you want to identify cherry trees, it’s important to keep field notes.

For example, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the leaves of the tree were emerging (green) before the blossoms, which means the tree cherry was probably a Shogetsu (the leaves of Shirofugen are copper color when they emerge before turning to green then back to copper).

Shogetsu cherry blossom

The edge of the Shogetsu petals are fringed (instead of having a smooth round edge).

Wendy Cutler provided great pictures showing the difference between Shogetsu and Shirofugen cherry blossoms on the UBC forum (#6).

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Petal count:  I’ve counted about 25 petals on the blossoms. Shogetsu have 20-25 petals, but Shirofugen can have up to 40.

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Flowers: the elegant blossoms were at the end of long stalks of 4-6 corymbs. The picture I took was very similar to the photo from the book Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver, confirming my belief this was a Shogetsu.

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Color of the leaves:  no sign of copper. All the leaves are a healthy green.

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Presence of a phylloid (which is also present in Shirofugen).

Shogetsu cherry blossom

Buds: with a hint of pink, but blossoms open pure white.

I think the first four elements were the ones that really allowed to identify the tree as Shogetsu: green leaves emerging before the blossoms, fringed-edge petals, long stalks,  and 25 petals.

Are there Shogetsu cherry trees in your neighborhood? Find out on the VCBF map.

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