May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. I will be sharing a few recipes and stories with this theme in mind during this month. Today I want to share some pics of Japanese cherry trees Sakura (Prunus serrulata), and blossoms, taken by one of my daughters in Japan back in March, before the state of emergency was declared over there:
Sakura trees are widely appreciated as ornamentals, and some cultivated varieties outside Asia do not grow fruit at all.
In Mexico, there are very few locations, such as in the states of Durango and Chihuahua, where the climate is appropriate for growing cherry trees, being ornamental or for fruit crops. The current top cherry producers and exporters in the World are Turkey and The United States, with Canada, Japan and Mexico falling in 21st, 24th and 66th places, respectively. When I was a kid, I remember that fresh cherries were available in Mexico City only in season (June to August) and sold exclusively at specialty produce markets by the unit; cherries could be otherwise enjoyed mainly as Maraschino, topping desserts and beverages, or in liqueur, filling fancy chocolate bonbons (dark chocolate and cherries, my favourite sweet combo). However, in the last sixteen years, demand for fresh cherries has grown in Mexico, starting with small scale imports from the northwestern U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana; the exports from that region alone have increased from 6,000 cartons in 2004, to 200,000 cartons in 2018.
Going to a “pick your own” cherry orchard and eating a whole bowl of fresh cherries was one of my favourite new experiences when I first came to Canada, and even after all these years (over three decades!), I still get very excited when I start seeing Washington cherries at the supermarket, announcing the season soon to follow in Southern Ontario. The cherry blossom season is at its peak in Toronto, but access to parks has been renounced due to the pandemic. High Park is offering virtual tours to create opportunities for everyone to enjoy the sight from home, without breaking the Ontario state of emergency outlines.
As I have mentioned before, I have a Stella (Prunus avium) cherry tree in my garden, a great variety for the small backyard: it grows slowly, does not need cross-pollination, and the beautiful blooms (seen at the top of the post) produce sweet dark fruit. In the photo below, my Stella tree in full bloom (May 2019):
Although most of my cherries are claimed by fruit flies and birds, it is a lot of fun observing the tree as it starts to form buds, welcoming the warm weather as they open to full bloom, usually around this time, over a month later than in Japan (Tokyo area). Below, a series of photos of the same branch on my cherry tree:
I am linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge for May 7, 2020.