The Fleeting Beauty of Cherry Blossoms: Why Do They Fall So Quickly?

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Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a beloved symbol of spring in Japan and around the world. These delicate pink flowers captivate audiences with their beauty, but their time in the spotlight is short-lived. Have you ever wondered why cherry blossoms fall so quickly? In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the fleeting nature of cherry blossoms and compare the blooming and falling periods of four popular varieties: Somei Yoshino, Yaezakura, Shidarezakura, and Kawazu-zakura.

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The Mechanism Behind Falling Cherry Blossoms

The secret to why cherry blossoms fall so quickly lies in a special layer of cells called the abscission layer. This layer is located where the flower petal meets the stem. As time passes after the cherry blossom opens, the cells in the abscission layer begin to break down, weakening the connection between the petal and the stem. Eventually, the slightest breeze or rain can cause the petals to fall effortlessly. This mechanism is consistent across different cherry blossom varieties.

How Long from Bloom to Fall?

The duration from when a cherry blossom opens to when it falls varies depending on the variety and weather conditions. Let’s compare the characteristics and blooming-to-falling periods of Somei Yoshino, Yaezakura, Shidarezakura, and Kawazu-zakura.

Somei Yoshino

Somei Yoshino is the most common cherry blossom variety in Japan. It typically blooms from early to mid-April and reaches full bloom about a week after the first blossoms open. The petals start to fall about a week after full bloom and finish falling within another week.

Yaezakura

Yaezakura, or double-flowered cherry blossoms, bloom slightly later than Somei Yoshino, usually from mid to late April. They take about 10 days to reach full bloom after the initial flowering. The petals begin to fall about a week after full bloom and continue falling for another week.

Shidarezakura

Shidarezakura, known for their elegantly drooping branches, bloom a bit earlier than Somei Yoshino, typically from late March to early April. They reach full bloom about 10 days after the first flowers appear. The petals start falling about a week after full bloom and continue falling for another week.

Kawazu-zakura

Kawazu-zakura is a unique variety known for its early blooming, usually from late February to early March. It takes about two weeks to reach full bloom after the initial flowering. The petals begin to fall about a week after full bloom and finish falling within another week.

VarietyBlooming PeriodTime to Full BloomTime to Start FallingTime to Finish FallingTotal Blooming to Falling Period
Somei YoshinoEarly to Mid-AprilAbout 1 weekAbout 1 weekAbout 1 weekAbout 3 weeks
YaezakuraMid to Late AprilAbout 10 daysAbout 1 weekAbout 1 weekAbout 4 weeks
ShidarezakuraLate March to Early AprilAbout 10 daysAbout 1 weekAbout 1 weekAbout 4 weeks
Kawazu-zakuraLate February to Early MarchAbout 2 weeksAbout 1 weekAbout 1 weekAbout 4 weeks

The Survival Strategy Behind Short Blooming Periods

The short blooming period of cherry blossoms can be seen as a survival strategy. Cherry trees bloom in early spring when competition for resources with other plants is high. By blooming and dispersing their pollen quickly, they can efficiently reproduce. Moreover, the falling petals allow the trees to allocate nutrients to the developing fruit. While there may be slight variations between varieties, this strategy is consistent across cherry blossoms.

The Human Connection to Cherry Blossoms

In Japanese culture, the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms is often seen as a symbol of the transient nature of life. The tradition of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is a time to appreciate the blossoms’ ephemeral beauty. The sight of fallen petals blanketing the ground evokes a sense of mono no aware, a bittersweet awareness of the impermanence of things. This aesthetic appreciation extends across all cherry blossom varieties.

Conclusion

The rapid falling of cherry blossoms can be attributed to the abscission layer and the tree’s survival strategy. While the blooming-to-falling period varies slightly among Somei Yoshino, Yaezakura, Shidarezakura, and Kawazu-zakura, they all captivate viewers for a fleeting three to four weeks. The next time you view cherry blossoms, take a moment to appreciate the science and deeper meanings behind their brief but beautiful appearance.

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