A Children’s Treasury of Japanese Tree Flowers

by Arielle Fleisher

There are many great things that come with the start of spring, like homeless people returning to Dupont Circle, tourists on Segways, free cone day, and Jesus. Of all the obligatory D.C. spring activities, though, there’s nothing more loved than staring at the cherry blossoms, even if those pretty pink blossoms look exactly the same every year. But, since Japan is just awful these days, and because we’re all but one old Brita filter away from radiation poisoning, we thought now is a good time to figure out what exactly cherry blossoms are and how they ended up in the nation’s capital.

According to the world’s most reputable source, Wikipedia, a cherry blossom is, “the flower of the cherry trees known as sakura, which, in English, refers to the Japanese flowering cherry, Prunus serrulata. Cherry fruit comes from another species of tree.” All of which is to say, the cherry blossoms are NOT the flowers that smell like sperm.

It turns out that Japan gave the United States 3,000 flower trees in 1912 to celebrate our burgeoning friendship, which we would later ruin. BUT THE JAPANESE ARE RESILIENT: They came back and gave us another 4,000 trees in 1964. Wikipedia doesn’t really explain why Japan gave us more flowering trees, but we can only assume that the first batch died because funding for watering plants was cut after an undercover video of a gardener over-watering the blossoms surfaced. Who really knows.

Here’s another Wikipedia Cherry Blossom Fun Fact: Even though tourists come to D.C. from far and wide to see these flowers, cherry blossoms are everywhere. There are some some in Philadelphia, Macon, San Diego, and New York. Yes, we know, the blossoms in New York are somehow more authentic and just generally better than the blossoms in D.C.

So many tourists, all trapped in a low-roof Japanese Flower Cage.

If you didn’t already sneak out of your cubicle to see the cherry blossoms, it’s too late — the blossoms are no longer at their peak.┬áThis whole Cherry Blossom Thing will finally end this Sunday with the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race and the Chery Blossom Kite Festival. And now, we promise not to write the words “cherry blossoms” again until 2012.

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user-of-owls April 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I'm going to pretend that Ken wrote this post.


ApplesauceRobot April 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

First they came for the cherry blossoms.
I did not speak out because I'm an owl. Seriously, I'm an owl. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Hoot at the motherfuckers? I eat mice in the middle of the night. I'm not even fucking awake during the day. What's a cherry blossom anyway? Is it something on a tree? Well I live in trees and I've never seen a goddamn cherry blossom. I've never even seen a cherry. Is a cherry something that my whore daughter gave away to some California condor? That's what I think it is. Fuck cherries and their blossoms and fucking trees. Well, except the tree I'm sleeping in during the day while you goddamn tourist are running around looking for some cherry blossom festival. I'll see you at night, bitches, as I hen peck your fucking eyeballs for Fourth Meal. Owl is out. Peace.

metamarcisf April 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Cherry Blossom Clinic, lock the door and throw the key away…

jus_wonderin April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Is anyone else surprised that we were allowed to accept the trees in 1964 given our memories are long when regard to hate things? And short on love things.

DashboardBuddha April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

They don't really smell like jizz do they? I always thought flower blossoms should smell nice…except for the corpse flower thingy.

freakishlywrong April 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

So, is this supposed to supplant the cute kitten link normally included in our apocalypse posts?

Tommmcatt April 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Don't we Gheyz celebrate this by having a huge rave in DC every year at this time? In point of fact, don't we Gheyz celebrate EVERYTHING by having a huge rave?

nounverb911 April 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm

"All of which is to say, the cherry blossoms are NOT the flowers that smell like sperm"
Mmmmm Ginkgo trees!

baconzgood April 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I'm Bummed that I missed them this year.

finallyhappy April 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Really, I have lived here for so long I could care less about the Tidal Basin trees. We have cherry blossoms right here in my neighborhood- but I AM NOT Telling you where.

BloviateMe April 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I assumed Cherry Blossom was Arielle's stage name. If I knew this story was actually about trees, well…

horsedreamer_1 April 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

This reminds me: surely DC has a burlesque troupe or an half-dozen that Wonkabout could tout.

nicnack74 April 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

It's been cold. The blossoms are falling off. The leaves are coming. However, I will say being from California, this was anticlimactic. They are all over northern California, and I don't have to freeze my ass off th be there. Bah humbug.

mrblifil April 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

needs moar cesium

Radiotherapy April 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

To say nothing of the wriggling in cloacal guano.

user-of-owls April 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm

If I didn't know better, I'd say you have cloaca envy.

Sharkey April 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Arielle, did you go looking for LOLRATS in the port-a-potties?

qwerty42 April 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Why not grow regular cherries? Sour cherries or the like (I don't think the sweet cherries do too well in that area). Of course, there would be birds. Lots of birds. It would be kinda white too (and if the results of the birds eating the wild cherries around here are any indication, it would be purply too). So ok, maybe that wouldn't be a big touristy kind of thing that would bring folks in.

PublicLuxury April 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Is this a filler article? I think it needs more blood libel.

MiniMencken April 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Did anyone stop to take notice that in Japanese art, the cherry blossom is a symbol for the wistfully sad, transitory nature of life? The Japanese were saying, "Hey, America, you are doomed!" Isn't it time the Republican Congress got after this insult to the Greatest Nation Under God on Earth for Ever and Ever AMEN?!? Where is Glenn Beck and his blackboard? Paul Bunyan and Babe? The Chain Saw Drill Team?

Jim89048 April 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Hey, we could give sell them back to Japan now, seeing as how they're the only strain of this particular genus that is not hopelessly irradiated, right?

BaldarTFlagass April 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

They're all done? Damn, my colleague scheduled a meeting next week in DC just so he could see the cherry blossoms (he lives in Ohio). Guess he misread that one. So, I guess that outside of our meetings, it's gonna be all drinkin', instead of mostly drinkin' with a little flower viewing thrown in.

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