A specially trained tree trunk takes care of more than 3,700 cherry trees around DC, but there are some things that people who visit the cherry blossoms can do.
While DC cherry trees sprout their delicate pink flowers and draw millions of visitors to the nation’s capital, the task of a team of expert arborists shifts to keeping them healthy in high gear.
“They are remarkably cordial,” said National Mall spokesman Mike Litterst. “But we have a full-time crew in the tree. We remind people when the flowers are out to help us take care of the trees.”
Litterst said the wooden crew has a few simple do’s and don’ts for guests.
“Do not pick the flowers. Keep the branches in place for other visitors,” he said. “Do not climb the trees, for some of them are probably over 100 years old.”
And stay on the footpath because too much pedestrian traffic can damage the trees, Litterst said.
The specially trained tree trunk takes care of more than 3,700 cherry trees around DC
“We mulch. We prune. We perform wound care if necessary,” Litterst said. “It’s not that much different than what you would do with your own trees at home. It’s just that we’re dealing with a lot more than most people have. “
The cherry trees were a gift from the city of Tokyo in 1912.
DC received at least a dozen varieties of the species. Most of them are Yoshino trees, which were planted around the tidal pool.
Yoshino cherry trees typically live between 50 and 60 years. But with the right care and feeding from arborists, some of the country’s trees have doubled their lifespan.
Each year, the tree’s crew determines the high-flowering season using a special cherry tree, Litterst said.
“The okame species is one of our indicator trees. It blooms about two weeks before Yoshino,” he said, “so we keep an eye on the okame to tell us when the yoshinos will bloom.”
This year, the high flowering season hit Monday. But the flowers will hold on long after.
“When we talk about top flowering, we are talking about when the Yoshino trees are in bloom,” he said. “We have another variety, the Kwanzan trees, they bloom about two weeks after the Yoshino trees.”