Blossoming Trees Are Lovely, But Maybe Not Quite In The Way You Think

It's spring time! Cherry blossoms in February.




If you’ve set foot on just about any Bernal Heights street during the last few days, you’ve probably noticed the spectacular pink blossoms that are peaking around the neighborhood.

They look like cherry blossoms, but Bernalwood sources say they’re not. Sakura happens later in the year, so our sources tell us the pink trees we see now are actually Ume (plum blossoms).

Armchair arborists are welcome to weigh in on this, but in the meantime, everyone is encouraged to partake of the blooming while it’s booming.

PHOTOS: From top, Spieri_SF, Telstar Logistics, Erin Archuleta, and Leslie Jonath

9 thoughts on “Blossoming Trees Are Lovely, But Maybe Not Quite In The Way You Think

  1. I always wondered why all the other (now so-called) cherry blossoms around Bernal would bloom in February and the tree in front of my house would bloom in April. I just chalked it up to our tree’s poor health. Could it be an actual cherry blossom tree? hmmm

  2. That’s correct. They are purple leaf plum (Prunus Cerasifera). They’re great trees and seem to be a favorite planting of Friends of the Urban Forest.

    • Thanks for the detail, GG! We have one of these trees in our backyard and are always wondering what it is. It is spectacular right now, but we find it really ugly for 11 months of the year. We’ve actually wondered about removing or exchanging it for another tree. I wonder if we could just aggressively cut it back? Anyway, thanks for the note about the purple leaf plum.

      • Hi, Meredith! Love your tree right now! Not sure how radically you can prune them back, you might be better off just replacing it with something you like. Look for the cherry in our back yard to begin blooming in 4-6 weeks – and it lasts longer than the purple plum blooms. 🙂

  3. Yes, I have an Ume in front of my house on Peralta. We planted it about 20 years ago. There are about 5 of them on our block. It’s what makes February so beautiful.

  4. Meredith, we have aggressively cut ours back and it has helped ALOT. It can get really big and entwined into the wires. Now it will slowly grow back.

  5. Here’s a bit on pruning:

    Summer is the best time to prune a purple-leaf plum, but you can do it at any time really as long as it’s not raining. I work for Friends of the Urban Forest and have been pruning a lot of these trees lately. They’re really beautiful this time of year.

    For young trees, you do not want to prune any more than 25% of the current foliage. If it’s an older tree, more like 10% (depending on it’s condition, you shouldn’t need to prune more than that). If you’re going to get your tree pruned, I recommend you do your research in order to make proper cuts yourself, or hire a professional. This is even more important on street trees or trees that are visible from the sidewalk/street. The City fines homeowners for improper pruning and it can be really unhealthy for the tree.

    Here’s some helpful info on pruning:

  6. Do these sometimes take the year off? We have two in our backyard and no blossoms! I was so looking forward to them. The homeowner told us that the trees only sometimes bear fruit (every few years), so wonder if the same is true of blossoming.

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