NATIVE RANGE: East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and parts of India
DESCRIPTION: Small deciduous tree, delicate pink flowers bloom in early spring, smooth bark with horizontal stripes, alternate leaves.
JEWELRY: Casts of pruned branches before they bloom in spring
TREE DIPLOMACY: The US and Japan began exchanging flowering trees over 100 years ago. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the US 3000 cherry trees. Those trees took 8 years to plant in Washington DC and are still commemorated each year with the Cherry Blossom Festival. The US responded in 2012, giving Japan 3000 flowering dogwoods, some of which were planted at a memorial for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
PRUNING: As a tree steward part of my work involves pruning street trees. Trees in urban environments often get too much sun and water, because they tend to grow alone instead of with other trees close by. This means that they grow very quickly, which can effect the long term health of the tree. Pruning helps to control this steroid-like grow, particularly in young trees, which makes them live longer and better able to withstand the hazards of city life - hazards include cars and people breaking off branches, power lines, bikes parked against their trunks which opens the bark up to infection, toxins in the air and water etc.
Early spring is the best time to prune. The trees are just waking up from their dormant state, and they will have the rains of spring and the summer sun to recover from the pruning. We use several different species of branches in our work, but collecting young cherry branches is always one of my favorite foraging tasks.