Christmas Day Cherry Blossoms at the Arnold Arboretum — Wait, What?

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We normally associate the blossoming of the cherry trees at the Arnold Arboretum with the springtime, but the unseasonably warm temperatures so far this winter have brought some unexpected guests to this week's holiday festivities.

On Christmas Day, a prunus subhirtella pendula plena rosea -- or weeping cherry tree -- at the arboretum is showing several fully formed blossoms on its mostly-bare boughs (above and below).


On the other side of the pond, a prunus incisa f. serrata, a form of Fuji cherry tree, is showing some springtime-like buds and blossoms as well.


A piece in yesterday's Boston Globe, in addition to featuring several arboretum strollers talking about the early blooms, interviewed Norm Helie, an applied plant and soil scientist who guides tree and plant care for the Friends of the Public Garden, about the phenomenon:

Higan cherry trees, unlike many other flowering trees and shrubs, are easily tricked into blooming at off-times by unseasonably warm weather. The out-of-season burst of blooms will not hurt the tree, Helie said, but probably will reduce springtime blooms.

While the flowering trees provoked concern among some outdoor enthusiasts, Helie said other types of buds — the kind that bring new leaves in the spring — are actually building resilience because of the unexpected warmth.

The weather has produced many of these robust buds, called vegetative buds, and that portends healthy new growth and ample leaves in the spring, Helie said.

This burst of warmth has given many trees’ buds time to develop “buffering capability” against the cold, making for stronger trees next year, he said.

The temperature in Jamaica Plain hit 61 degrees as of 1 p.m. Are you getting outside today? Where in JP have you spied out-of-season blooms?