The “Sakura” Blooms Earlier Than Ever

Science Fields

The pink-white flowers of the Sakura, the Japanese cherry trees have long inspired all the romantics, from painters to poets, for centuries. Besides being the subject of many legends and having an important role in Japanese symbolism, the flowering period of sakura trees has been recorded for about 1200 years (since 812). These records showing when the trees in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, begin to bloom and when they reach their peak bloom (the time when at least 70% of all the blossoms have opened) and are in full bloom, are perhaps one of the oldest climate records in the world. Sakura blossoms, as the harbinger of spring in Japan, are celebrated every year with various outdoor activities. However, the harbinger arrived a little early this year, and the celebrations were a little less colourful due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to records, cherry trees have been blooming earlier for the last 150 years. The average peak bloom day in Kyoto was April 17 in the 1850s and was recorded as of March 26 in 2021. Likewise, while the typical peak bloom was around April 2 in Tokyo, this year’s peak happened on March 22nd. A similar change was also observed in sakura trees in Washington, USA. In 1912, Yukio Ozaki, the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the United States as a symbol of friendship. According to official records kept since 1953, these trees reached peak bloom around April 4. But this year, the date was March 31.

Just like in Japan, this change in the USA also parallels the increase in the average global temperatures. This can be considered as a sign of climate-changing. If the flowering periods are drawn earlier, but the pollinator insects have not yet emerged from their larval stages, this could be disadvantageous for both the plants and the insects. As spring begins to arrive earlier, elements of the ecosystem that are tied closely to each other may not keep up with this change. Changes in the life cycle of one organism affect the other species that depend on this life cycle.

Of course, this is not a big surprise. Cherry blossoms are very sensitive to weather conditions, and early bloom has already been going on for years.


  • 1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/iconic-cherry-blossoms-are-blooming-earlier-than-ever-in-washington-d-c/
  • 2. https://phys.org/news/2021-03-japan-earliest-cherry-blossoms-climate.html