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Tree to 20 m, 0.4 m dbh. Branchlets green to greyish brown. Leaves deciduous, 15 × 9 cm, elliptic, upper surface bright green, lower surface pale green, margin serrate, apex acuminate; petiole ~3 cm long; stipules deciduous with marginal hairs. Inflorescence umbellate with two to five flowers on pedicels 1.5 cm long. Flowers white or pale pink, 2.6–3.2 cm diameter; hypanthium tubular, sepals lanceolate-acuminate, petals bifid. Drupe ~1 cm long, reddish purple. Nakai 1918, Chang et al. 2004. Distribution SOUTH KOREA: Ullung-do, Ullung-gun. Habitat Woodland. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT657.
Despite its relatively recent arrival in horticulture, this pretty cherry from Ullung-do has been honoured with mass plantings in the Tidal Basin area of Washington DC, taking its place in the annual display of flowering cherries there (and given the ‘English’ name of Takesimensis Cherry (!); Ullung-do Cherry would be more appropriate, we suggest). It was planted for its reputed ability to tolerate wet sites in the wild (National Parks Service 2007) – a physiological feature that has been confirmed by Jacobs & Johnson (1996), who found that of a number of different cherries, this was the most tolerant to flooding. It was introduced to the US National Arboretum through arrangements made by Roland Jefferson (of USNA) with Prof. Jae-wae Hang of the Department of Forestry at Yeungnam University. With graduate students, Prof. Hang collected 27 accessions from trees across Ullung-do in 1986. In 1989, Skip March of the US National Arboretum made another collection, from Ullung-gun (R. Olsen, pers. comm. 2008). Seed has also been distributed by Chollipo Arboretum (to Arboretum Wespelaar, Belgium, for example, in 1995). Field notes from the 1989 collection (USNA accession 61613) were optimistic about its tolerances, including of wind, salt spray, and even concrete over its roots. A tree from this accession grows at Kew. Apart from the Washington trees and specimens in a few botanic gardens across our area, Prunus takesimensis seems to be largely unknown, and is apparently not in commerce, even in the United States. Richard Olsen (pers. comm. 2008) reports that its fruits are ‘sizeable and delicious’, and popular with staff at the US National Arboretum.