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Oriental cherry

P.serrulata_treeOriental cherry, Prunus serrulata ‘Mt. Fuji’

Scientific Name

Prunus serrulata

Common Name

Oriental cherry, Japanese flowering cherry, ‘Mt. Fuji’ flowering cherry, “Shirotae’ flowering cherry


Oriental cherry is native to Japan, China and Korea. The species has over 120 cultivated varieties, which are usually grafted onto Mazzard cherry (Prunus avium) stock. Many of the cultivars originated many years ago in Japan. ‘Mt Fuji’ has a spreading habit and large semi-double white flowers. Mature height is 15 to 20 feet with a similar spread.


Not native to Kentucky


Growth Habit and Form

’Mt. Fuji’ is a beautiful, spreading cherry with fragrant, snow-white flowers. It is also called ‘Shirotae’. It is easy to spot at any time of the year because of its low horizontal growth pattern. The cultivated variety is relatively short-lived, living about 15 to 25 years on a good site.


Leaves are pale green, but have a slight bronze tinge when unfolding. Leave have saw-toothed margins and taper to a point.


The ‘Mt Fuji’ cherry produces fragrant, semi-double (single on young trees), 2 ½-inch wide flowers in pendulous clusters before leaves emerge. The ruffled flowers are pink in bud and open to white. Flowers often turn pinkish before petal fall.


Fruit is inconspicuous and not showy.


Bark is glabrous, shining and reddish-brown.

Wild and Cultivated Varieties

Oriental cherry had over 120 cultivars. Some that may be more readily available include:

‘Amanogawa’(‘Erecta’) – semi-double, light pink, fragrant flowers, narrow columnar habit, about 20 feet tall;

‘Fugenzo’(‘James H. Veitch’, ‘Kofugen’) – spreading habit, flowers 2.5 inches across, rose pink fading to light pink, double, ‘Kofugen’ sometimes described as having deeper color;

‘Shirofugen’ – rapid growth rate, young foliage bronze later turning green, flowers double, 2.5 inches across, pink fading to white;

‘Shogetsu’ – tree 15 feet tall, broad and flat-topped, flowers double, pale pink, center may be white, can be two inches across;

‘Ukon’ – young foliage bronze, flowers pale yellow, semi-double.


Landscape Use

‘Mt Fuji’ flowering cherry has very attractive semi-double, white flowers and is usually purchased and planted for this reason. The upright-spreading form, reaching 15 to 20 feet tall, is quite attractive in many locations including near a patio or as a specimen.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA Zone 5 to 6.

Growth Rate


Cultivation and Propagation Information

It is easily transplanted, prefers full sun, and is intolerant of poor drainage. ‘Mt Fuji’ is not stress-tolerant or highly drought-tolerant. Trees should be located on a site with loose soil and plenty of moisture. Not for an urban parking lot or exposed street tree planting where borers and other problems normally attack. It tolerates clay if well-drained.

Diseases and Insects

‘Mt Fuji’ is sensitive to one or more pests or diseases, which can affect tree health or aesthetics, including aphids, borers, scale, spider mites, tent caterpillars, leaf spot, twig cankers, black knot, and powdery mildew.

Wildlife Considerations

“Mt Fuji’ is of little importance to wildlife, except as shelter.

Maintenance Practices

Relatively trouble-free.


The wood of Prunus serrulata is used for smoke-drying ham and bacon; the leaves are used in cake making.

‘Mt Fuji’ flowering cherry has very attractive, semi-double, white flowers and is usually purchased and planted for this reason.