Position: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Moist, well drained
Flowering period: Late spring
Eventual Height: 6m
Eventual Spread: 8m
Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a
Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ is a deciduous tree with a spreading to weeping habit. Its dark green leaves are ovate with serrate margins, up to 9cm long and 5cm across. Its leaves turn yellow/ orange/ red in autumn before they fall. Its grey/ brown bark is smooth with horizontal lenticels. Its white semi-double mildly fragrant flowers appear in racemose clusters at the same time as its leaves.
The species, Prunus serrulata, commonly know as the Japanese Cherry, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Hill Cherry or Oriental Cherry, is native to Japan, Korea and China. The plant features heavily in the traditions of Japan, with its blossoms symbolising the ephemerality of life. In its native habitat it grows in mixed forests on mountain slopes. Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ is synonymous with Prunus ‘Shirotae’ and Prunus ‘Mount Fuji’.
The etymological root of the binomial name Prunus is from the classical Latin name of the plum tree. Serrulata being derived from the Latin meaning small toothed, referring to the leaf margins in this plant.
The landscape architect may find Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ useful as an attractive and spring flowering specimen tree.
Ecologically, Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects, including as bees. All parts of this plant are mildly toxic to humans.
The Royal Horticultural Society have given Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers an alkali soil.
Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ requires little maintenance once established. Pruning should be carried out after flowering, from April to July to minimise the risk of Silver leaf infection. If planted in a lawn, the grass should be strimmed under the tree rather than mown as the mower may damage the roots causing the plant to send up new shoots.