Iconic UW cherry blossoms set to reach peak bloom in coming weeks

SEATTLE -- The cherryblossoms are coming!

The iconic cherry trees in the University of Washington’s Quad will likely reach peak bloom the third week of March, right in line with most years. The colder than average February might push back that timing slightly, but probably not by much, according to campus arborist Sara Shores.

“Temperature and amount of sunlight are the big factors that determine bloom timing,” Shores said. “Once the trees reach peak bloom, then we hope that the temperatures drop and the air is fully still for two or three weeks. That will help the blossoms last longer.”

The 29 large cherry trees in the Quad are about 86 years old and healthy, Shores said. Several smaller trees have been planted in the Quad over the years, and crews this year removed a small, younger cherry tree that was showing signs of severe decline, she added.

A number of other cherry trees live across campus, but the species in the Quad, “Somei-yoshino,” usually blooms before the others each season. Each species has its own typical bloom time.

Younger clones of the Quad cherry trees were planted in recent years along the pathway just south of the law school as well as several in the Washington Park Arboretum. These clones should bloom around the same time as the Quad cherry trees.

The Quad cherry trees were originally planted on arboretum land near Montlake Boulevard where Highway 520 passes through. They were moved to campus in 1962 when the highway’s construction required the trees to be relocated. These details, as well as more history on the cherry trees, are described in a recent report written by Yuki Shiotani, a student at Waseda University in Tokyo who studied at the UW as an exchange student.

Visitors can find other varieties of cherry trees blooming at different times around campus. Large trees near Gerberding Hall will flower several weeks after the Quad trees. Between Gerberding Hall and the Drumheller Fountain, a group of young trees will also blossom a little later.

Plum trees, which look similar, typically bloom before the cherries. Several trees are located near Suzzallo Library, along the southwest entrance to the Quad.

Visitors are asked to treat all of the trees with respect by not pulling on the blooming branches or climbing the tree limbs.