By Liliana Usvat
A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, modern day Turkey, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC
The English word cherry, French cerise and Spanish cereza all come from the classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, today a city in northern Turkey Giresun from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.
Hanami is an important Japanese custom and is held all over Japan in spring. Hanami literally means viewing flowers, but it generally indicates cherry blossom viewing. It’s said that the origin of hanami dates back to more than one thousand years ago when aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful cherry blossoms and wrote poems. Nowadays, people in Japan have fun viewing cherry blossoms, drinking and eating. It is like a picnic under the trees. People bring home-cooked meals, do BBQ, or buy take-out food for hanami. In popular hanami spots, there are even competitions for the best spots.
Cherry blossom festivals take place all over the country. Most of them are held between March to May, though other regions have them in January, February, and June, based on their location. Festival dates are usually determined with reference to cherry blossom forecasts and vary from year to year.
Gorgeous flowers are main attractions of the festivals, but a variety of traditional Japanese performing arts presented in many festivals can’t be missed. J
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington, D.C.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations
The effort to bring cherry trees to Washington, D.C., preceded the official planting by several decades. In 1885, Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore returned from her first trip to Japan and approached the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds with the idea of planting cherry trees along the reclaimed waterfront of the Potomac River. Scidmore, who would go on to become the first female board member of the National Geographic Society, was rebuffed, though she would continue proposing the idea to every Superintendent for the next 24 years.
In 1906, David Fairchild imported 1000 cherry trees from the Yokohama Nursery Company in Japan and planted them on his own property in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
The Fairchilds were pleased with the results of their planting and in 1907 began promoting Japanese flowering cherry trees as an ideal tree to plant around avenues in the Washington area. On September 26, with the help of the Fairchilds’ friends, the Chevy Chase Land Company ordered 300 Oriental cherry trees for the Chevy Chase area.
In 1908, Fairchild donated cherry saplings to every D.C. school to plant on its school grounds.
The New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden has more than 200 cherry trees. “Cherry Valley” near the Rose Garden has become a highlight, as well as the Reflecting Pool near the Visitor Center.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF) is an annual spring festival held in Vancouver, British Columbia to celebrate the beauty of Vancouver’s cherry trees. The festival’s fundamental objectives includes public education through seasonal, cherry-themed, city-wide viewing programs, musical performances, and fine art and craft exhibitions. It enables Vancouverties and those in surrounding areas to appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival was founded in 2005 by Linda Poole, its director, to commemorate the 37,000 cherry trees gifted from Japan to the City of Vancouver. The first Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 2006.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival holds an event called the “Cherry Jam” as a kickoff to the festival. This free family event welcomes spring and the blooming of cherry trees to Vancouver. Each year the event has various musical traditions, with all ages participating.
Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. The peak season for cherries is in the summer. In Australia and New Zealand they are usually at their peak in late December, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in south British Columbia (Canada) in July to mid-August and in the UK in mid-July. In many parts of North America, they are among the first tree fruits to ripen, while in Australia and New Zealand cherries are widely associated with Christmas.
Sweet cherry is a fruit. The fruit of the sweet cherry is used as food and medicine.
Sweet cherry is used to prevent cancer and diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease). It is also used to treat osteoarthritis and gout.
In foods, sweet cherries are eaten as a food or flavoring.
Aromatic inner bark traditionally used in tea or syrup for coughs, “blood tonic”, fevers, colds, flu, laryngitis, cough, whooping cough, bronchial spasms, bronchitis, sore throats, asthma, high blood pressure, colic, edema, arthritis, diarrhea, lung ailments, eye inflammation, swollen lymph glands, tuberculosis, pneumonia, inflammatory fever diseases, and dyspepsia. Useful for general debility with persistent cough, poor circulation, lack of appetite, mild sedative, and expectorant. Fruits used as “poor man’s” cherry substitute.
The black cherry tree was extremely important medicinally to the American Indians. The dried inner tree bark was commonly used to make a tea or infusion that was treated for a variety of symptoms, including colds, fevers, diarrhea, labor pains, and general pain reliever due to its tranquilizing and sedative qualities (Peirce).
The root was also used by American Indians for things such intestinal worms, burns, cold sores, and other dermatological symptoms.
The fruit was used to make cough syrups by tribes such as the Delaware. The early settlers followed this practice and black cherry continues to be used in syrups in folk medicin
Physicians prescribed cherries for epilepsy. In the 1920s in the United States, physicians touted black cherries to cure kidney stones and gall bladder ailments, and red cherries to remove phlegm. In 1950 Ludwig Blau, Ph.D., writing in Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine, claimed that he cured his crippling gout that confined him to a wheelchair by eating six to eight cherries each day. As long as he ate cherries, he avowed, the gout stayed away.
Infusion: steep 1 oz. of the bark in 1 pint of water. Allow to stand over night. Add honey, if desired. Dose: 1/2 wineglassful 3 times
The black cherry has a sweet but bitter taste. The American Indians consumed the black cherry as a fresh fruit, sometimes using it in breads and cakes like the Iroquois did. The fruits were also often dried and were an essential ingredient in pemmican. The dried cherries were even ground up and used to make soup by the Ojibwa tribe (Moerman). The Chippewa used the twigs to make a beverag, while the Potawatomi mainly used the fruit for alcoholic spirits.
- New cherry tree book for Vancouver (blogs.vancouversun.com)
- Tokyo, Japan (travelunwe.wordpress.com)
- Sakuramento – A Sacramento Hanami Line (landparkteam.wordpress.com)
- Cherry Blossom Bedroom, Blossom Bedroom (potterybarnkids.com)
- Cherry Blossom Decorations, Paper Lantern Bedroom (potterybarnkids.com)
- Farewell Old Friends (giftofra.com)
- Cherry Blossom Festival 2014 to take place March 20 through April 13 (wjla.com)
- Cherry Blossoms (nappysoul.wordpress.com)
- Cherry Blossom Festival: New granite plaza to be unveiled (wjla.com)
- Poetic mood at cherry book event (blogs.vancouversun.com)