A botanist has claimed to have found the first new species of cherry tree in a century. The “Kumano-zakura” (Kumano cherry) was discovered on the Kii Peninsula and if verified it will be the first new species of cherry tree since 1910.
The early blooming Kumano cherry is said to exist in Wakayama, Nara and Mie prefectures in southern Japan.
Toshio Katsuki, who heads the cherry tree preservation team at the Tama Forest Science Garden said, “The Kumano-zakura has deeper-colored petals, which makes the trees look more brilliant when they are in blossom.” He continued by saying, “While I have seen various sorts of cherry trees, I had probably never seen so many of them in the wild that looked so beautiful.”
Katsuki’s studies indicated that the “Kumoano-zukura” bloomed earlier than the yamazakura (Cerasus jamasakura) and the kasumizakura (Cerasus verecunda). He also stated it has distinct characteristics in parts of the flower and in the flower stalk.
If the Kumano-zakura is classified as a new distinct species, instead of a variety of a known one, it will be the first such instance since the 1910s when wild cherry species including the Oshima-zakura were established.