84 Year old Cherry felled in last nights winds at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Last night (5/12/19) the forecast high winds caused us to cancel our Christmas light show. The highest gust recorded in the garden was 43mph. This was enough to fell a 84 year old Prunus serrulata. The tree had been in decline and the upturned root plate revealed decayed roots most likeley caused by Honey fungus which is a known problem in this area of the garden. The falling tree damaged young trees of Acer rufinerve and Malus toringo luckily these had been planted in triplicate and the best trees remain untouched.

When a tree blows over it catches our attention. This specimen was never one that had sparked my interest before but suddenly it becomes of interest. We ask the question what did we loose? The Prunus serrulata was grown from seed in 1935. It is listed as having been received from Captain Collingwood Ingram. Colliingwood Ingram was a plant collector and gardener and an authority on Japanese flowering cherries. He introduced many Japanese and other species of cherries to the United Kingdom, as well as creating his own hybrids. He is famous for reintroducing an extinct Cherry; ‘Taihaku’ the Great White Cherry to Japan.


Suckers – Vigorous young shoots sprouting from the roots offer some hope of propagating this specimen to allow it to be retained in the collection if we need to. Prunus serrulata is no longer very common in British gardens, having been replaced by double-flowered varieties of Japanese origin with greatly extend flowering periods. Although very pleasing these are often infertile and poor sources of nectar and pollen.

It is likely that this was a garden form of Prunus serrulata imported from Japan as this was Collingwood Ingrams area of interest. Our only other accession named as Prunus serrulata is a more recent introduction made by RBGE staff (Dickson, Brown and Tricker 2015) from Yunnan. It was planted out in 2017 and is growing on the Oak lawn in Edinburgh and at Benmore Botanic Garden.

Plants grown from the 2015 Accession – 20150176 require verification.

Collingwood Ingram believed Prunus serrulata to have been introduced to Japan from China. Interestingly the accepted name in Flora of China is Cerassus serrulata and three distinct varieties are recognised.

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  1. William Campbell

    Excellent and interesting information, at one time the geography was of importance and now is the history. Great to hear of today modern plant hunters have produced a plant to add to the garden.

    Thanks for your post, William that’s what makes social media interesting.

    • William Hinchliffe

      Thank you for commenting. Its always nice to know people are reading!

  2. Kirsty Burrell

    Sad – it was my favourite tree! So interesting to know about Collingwood re-introducing the splendid Taihaku to Japan.

    • William Hinchliffe

      It always fascinates me the connections people make with trees. Why this one for you I wonder?

  3. Paul Graham Morris

    Thanks for a very interesting review of the life of this tree. I’d be interested in more such stories of the trees of the gardens.

    • William Hinchliffe

      Thank you for commenting. Explore the rest of of the Botanics Stories Archive for more interesting stories about the collection and the work we do at RBGE. We will endevour to keep creating new stories.