Findings about cherry trees

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our cherry tree survey. It has had tremendous support, receiving over 5,500 results so far. The information you have gathered provides us with a snapshot of UK cherry trees and insights into their biodiversity. 

We ran the cherry tree survey for the first time in spring 2010, to coincide with cherry blossom season. Here are our initial findings.

Most popular cherries

The most frequently recorded species is the wild cherry, with 29% of the results. This cherry's name suggests it is only found growing wild in the countryside. While it is quite common in woods, the wild cherry is also cultivated for fruit, so its popularity in gardens is not all that surprising.

The second most popular is the Japanese cherry, at 21%. Both Japanese and wild cherry groups are ornamental, and the survey shows they are the most popular cherries in gardens, parks and streets.

Around a third of trees were recorded as a cherry, but you weren’t sure which species.

Where cherry trees are

Most of the cherries were recorded with a fairly even spread across the UK.

The record for the most northerly cherry goes to Mainland in the Orkneys - an area with very few trees of any kind. The southernmost cherry recorded is a bird cherry in Guernsey, and a Japanese cherry in the Scilly Isles is the most westerly.

The most popular setting for cherry trees in the survey is private gardens. This is what we hoped for. Private gardens are not studied very often and any data we get about them increases our understanding of biodiversity in the UK.

Surprising results

Some of the more unexpected things the survey has turned up:

  • Morello cherries are more popular than we expected, accounting for 11% of the results. Also called sour cherries, they are only used in cooking and have been considered out of fashion recently.
  • Spring cherries are less popular than we expected - they can be difficult to identify so there could be more out there than we think.
  • Bird cherries are more rarely found in parks than we expected, but they are popular in gardens and streets.
  • Many cherries have grown to a larger-than-average size, some reaching 9m in height with trunks up to 90cm in girth.

Future of the survey

Although we can make some judgements about urban cherries now, the real value of the survey will come in the future. The survey is intended to provide a base line, an initial set of data that we can compare changes to. 

We hope you will continue to record cherries for our survey. As well as providing useful information about the distribution of cherry trees, the information you provide will enable scientists to study, for example, whether the flowering and fruiting seasons of cherry trees are changing.