Wild cherry is top of the pops
2 May 2011
Wild cherry, Prunus avium, has emerged as the most popular type of cherry in the country after the first nationwide survey of cherry trees in the UK.
Thousands of people sent in records of cherry trees growing in their gardens, parks and streets for the 2010 Cherry Tree Survey, launched by the Natural History Museum last spring. Nearly a third of entries were for wild cherries, popular in gardens for their fruit as well as common in the countryside. Second, at 21%, were Japanese cherries, a group which includes P. serrulata, P. sargentii and P. speciosa.
Some specimens were surprisingly large: trees of up to 9m (29 ft) in height and 90cm (3ft) in girth were recorded. The most northern tree was in the Orkney Islands, while a bird cherry (P. padus) in Guernsey is the most southerly cherry in the British Isles.
The organisers hope the data collected will serve as a base line against which they can compare future assessments of cherry tree populations, including any changes in the timing of their flowering and fruiting.
'Cherry blossom is one of the iconic pointers that spring has arrived,' said Bob Press, a botanist at the museum. 'The records are really important to us – they will help us to determine such things as changes in populations of trees, whether trees are able to grow further north than in the past, exactly what's here and why and where.'
Take part in the 2011 Cherry Tree Survey