Cherry tree survey launches

15 April 2010

Know your cherry tree from your apple, pear or plum tree? Whether you do or not, it is easy to tell the difference, and you can help scientists at the Natural History Museum with the first UK cherry tree survey, launched today.

Museum scientists need people around the UK to look out for the tell-tale cherry blossom and then record their tree sightings online.

The results will produce a map of cherry tree locations and their flowering and fruiting timings. It will give scientists a better insight into the cherry tree population and help them find out how climate change may be affecting the flowering and fruiting times.

'A classic sign of spring, cherries are easy to spot because of their beautiful, colourful blossom,' says Bob Press, Natural History Museum's Associate Keeper of Botany.

'Now they've started to flower we're asking people to get outside to try and identify and map where every cherry tree is in this first ever UK census of cherries.'

Nine cherry species

Cherry trees belong to the group of tree species known as Prunus, and they all share a number of characteristics. 

The survey will be monitoring 9 species in the UK, including the Japanese Mountain cherry, Prunus serrulata, shown above and in the Museum's Species of the day today. And also the morello cherry Prunus cerasus and wild cherry Prunus avium, which are widely cultivated for their fruit.

Identifying cherry trees

Not all blossom is the result of cherry trees. Plum, apple and pear trees have blossom too. The cherry tree website has lots of useful images, fact sheets, keys and look-alikes, to help you identify the species correctly.

More tree surveys

The cherry tree survey will run for 3 years and will be followed in a few weeks by a full survey of most common groups of trees, called the Urban tree project.

Go to www.nhm.ac.uk/cherries

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