Apple Blossom Vs Cherry Blossom: Learn The Distinction

Springtime in Japan means a festival of blossoms everywhere. And out of all the ornamental trees, cherry blossoms stand out the most as it’s a national obsession of my country Japan.

However, many people don’t even know that some of those enchanting flowering trees are not cherry blossoms. Such an example is the apple blossom that has an almost similar look.

And, of course, we human beings are always curious to know the differences between similar-looking things.

Don’t we?

Yeah! Absolutely.

So, to feed your curious mind, I am presenting a descriptive apple blossom vs cherry blossom comparison that will help you be a pro in recognizing them individually as well as learn their distinct characteristics.

Key Difference Between Apple Blossom And Cherry Blossom

Because of the resemblance of the blossom’s appearance, the apple blossom looks kinda similar to the cherry blossom.

Even if you don’t have any idea about them, you may assume that cherries produce cherries and apples produce apples by hearing their name. But, this much knowledge can’t help you to know their variance when you will look at their flowers in the spring.

One of the key differences is that cherry flowers are smaller and delicate, while apple blossoms are larger and more robust. And to spot the closer distinction, you have to pick their flowers and look closely at the female parts of their center.

Cherry blossoms and apple blossoms

Cherry flowers have one female part, the pistil, with one thick stem-like style. On the contrary, apple blossoms have multiple styles.

In case you want to get a more detailed idea, cut the flower in half and find out the base of the pistil (the ovaries).

If they are found below the base of the flower (inferior), they are apple flowers. And if they are right at the base of the blossom (superior), you are holding cherry flowers.

Close view of cherry and apple blossom

Well, so far, you got a short explanation of how to tell them apart. Now, I will present a comparison table to show you some differences in a blink.

Side By Side Comparison Table

The below table contains their variance based on different terms.

Terms of Comparison Cherry Blossom Tree Apple Blossom Tree
Blooming Season
From late March to April
From April to June
Colors of flowers
Commonly white, light/dark pink, or yellowish
Usually white, pink, magenta, or red
Fragrance
Light or faint smell
Very fragrant
Growth Rate
Moderate
Moderate
Exposure to sun
Around 6 hours per day
At least 6 hours per day
Usual lifespan
30 years or above
30 years or above
Water Requirement
Moderate
Moderate

The information above is just a sneak peek. And to know them in-depth, you have to go through my upcoming descriptive discussion.

Cherry Blossom Vs Apple Blossom: From Characteristics Difference to Cultivation Facts

From here, I will tell you about both of these flowering trees’ blooming times, what they symbolize, how they smell, diseases, and many more.

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So, stay with me to discover the unknown.

1. Flowering Season

Most of the varieties of cherry blossom trees bloom in spring and usually last a few weeks. The time between the appearance of the first blossom and the shedding of the petals is likely to be 2 or 3 weeks.

Blooming cherry blossoms
Blooming cherry blossoms

Among all the types of cherry flowers, Yoshino has the most similar look to apple blossom. Usually, Yoshino blooms during April.

Yoshino cherry blossoms in full bloom
Yoshino cherry blossoms in full bloom

Japanese cherry blossom or sakura blooms from mid-March to late April/ early May.

On the other hand, depending on the climate and specific variety, apple blossom season is spread out for several weeks, even months, from April to June.

Blooming apple blossoms
Blooming apple blossoms

2. Features of The Blossoms

The apple blossom is a classic angiosperm flower, with petals encircling many pollen-producing structures called stamens, which are topped with sticky pollen-collecting stigma.

The female ovary just at the bottom of the flower extends and becomes the fruit while fertilized by pollen.

Most of the apple blossoms’ petals are pink when they first bloom, and as the season progresses, they fade to white.

Pink and fading white apple blossoms
Pink and fading white apple blossoms

Apples form buds at the end of 4-inch or longer shoots or on spurs, which are shorter branches. Although each bud cluster produces the same number of flower buds and leaves, not all flower buds are pollinated and produce fruit.

Moreover, each flower has five petals.

Apple blossom with five petals
Apple blossom with five petals

For cherry blossoms, most varieties produce white to light pink flowers. But, you will also find cherry trees with yellow, dark pink, and green blossoms.

White, pink, yellow, and green cherry blossoms
White, pink, yellow, and green cherry blossoms

Their flowers may bloom as white and then change color to pink over a few days.

Depending on the type, cherry blossoms can have five petals, such as in Yoshino, or lots of petals in rows like in Kwanzan.

Yoshino and kwanzan cherry blossom

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3. Pollination And Fruit Set

Apple blossoms need to be pollinated in order to provide fruit. The transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part (stigma) is required for fertilization.

Pollinating insects like bees can do this job. And that’s why planting pollinator-attracting flowers should be around the apple blossom trees.

Apple blossoms tree
Apple blossoms tree

But, some varieties of apples can fertilize themselves while others need pollen from another tree which is known as cross-pollination.

And when an apple tree is cross-pollinated, it will give you a higher rate of fruit set. Therefore, a group of these trees around each other is better than a lonely specimen, even if it’s self-fertile.

Group of apple blossom trees
Group of apple blossom trees

In contrast, cherry blossom trees don’t require more than one tree to produce fruit. All sour cherries are self-fruitful, which means they can pollinate themselves.

Single cherry blossoms tree
Single cherry blossoms tree

But, sweet cherries need cross-pollination or pollination via another cherry variety to bear fruit.

4. Symbolism Variance

In Japan, the cherry blossom is the symbolic flower of spring. These flowers have a deep meaning as they indicate the time of renewal and the transient nature of life.

Cherry blossom symbolic to renewal and beauty
Cherry blossom symbolic to renewal and beauty

They also symbolize purity and beauty.

On the other hand, apple blossoms are symbolic of long life. They have other meanings, such as hope, love, good fortune, and peace.

Apple blossom symbolic to hope and peace
Apple blossom symbolic to hope and peace

5. The Lifespan of These Trees

Most cherry blossom trees live only for 30 to 40 years. However, some species can live longer, up to 250 years.

Now let me tell you something surprising!

At Yamanashi’s Hokuto city in Japan, there is a legendary cherry blossom tree called “Jindai-Zakura.” Although the accurate age of this tree is yet to be determined, it’s estimated to be between 1,800 – 2,000 years old!

Jindai Zakura
Jindai Zakura

In short, with proper maintenance and if things stay in favor, ornamental cherry trees can live a long life.

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While talking about the apple blossom tree, it can live longer than 30 years.

Old apple blossom tree
Old apple blossom tree

6. Nutritional Values of The Blossoms

Apple blossoms have a fine floral flavor, and they are a great accompaniment to fruit dishes. Also, they can be used as a garnish.

You can also enjoy a tea of dried apple blossoms as a stress reliever, digestion aid, or to clear your complexion.

Tea with apple blossom
Tea with apple blossom

Additionally, these blossoms are one of the many flowers used to make Chinese herbal medicine, Pin Guo Hua.

Another thing is that apple blossoms are poisonous to the cat, so be aware of this fact.

However, be informed that the blossoms may contain cyanide precursors. So, you should eat in moderation.

Anyway, cherry blossoms are also edible, but not all the varieties. You can consume the petals of Yoshino cherry trees without any worry.

Edible cherry blossom in jelly
Edible cherry blossom in jelly

In here, Japan, we enjoy different desserts that are made from the petals of cherry flowers. Also, they are widely used in making teas.

Dessert made with cherry blossom
Dessert made with cherry blossom

7. Diseases & Pests

Two of the most common diseases of flowering apple trees are fire blight and powdery mildew.

Fire blight is the reason for shoots to die back and create hooked tips, as well as amber droplets exude from blossoms, leaves, and succulent shoots. And powdery mildew delays flowering, and the buds are covered in a white or gray mold.

Pruning apple leaves infected with powdery mildew
Pruning apple leaves infected with powdery mildew

You can treat these diseases by pruning the affected branches or spraying with a treatment from when the flowers become pink till they drop.

Pests, including apple maggot flies, codling moths, and plum curculio, are mostly found in ornamental apple trees.

Conversely, usual cherry blossom diseases are black knot, brown knot, powdery mildew, necrotic ring spot, silver leaf fungus, and so on.

Insect in cherry blossom
Insect in cherry blossom

And borers, scale, Japanese beetles, and caterpillars are some of the pests that cause problems to flowering cherry trees.

8. Watering & Fertilizing Requirements

Cherry blossom trees need moderate care.

They don’t prefer waterlogged soil. During the first season, they require moderate watering, preferably once or twice a week.

Cherry blossom tree needs moderate watering

You should water the tree only during prolonged dry summer periods. When you see that the top two inches of the soil are dry, that’s the time the tree needs water.

And in the spring, fertilize the tree with a general granular fertilizer.

The cultural needs of apple blossoms aren’t much different than cherry blossoms. To achieve the healthiest bloom and fruit set, maintain regular irrigation that keeps the soil moist but not swampy.

general granular fertilizer

General application of a 10-6-4 fertilizer blend yearly during spring is enough for them.

9. Best Place to Plant Them

Depending on the variety, the hardiness zone for flowering apple trees ranges from 3 to 9.

For example, Crabapple trees prefer zones 4-8. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunray per day to grow. So, this requirement should be considered while planting if you want to get the best out of them.

Crabapple tree under direct sunlight
Crabapple tree under direct sunlight

Although they can adapt to most soil conditions, it’s best to plant them in well-draining soil. And to avoid foliar diseases, plant in a location with good air circulation.

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Another consideration is that, depending on the species, these trees can reach a height of 15 to 30 feet or more. So, keep this much space around and above the plant.

Speaking of the cherry blossom tree, they need direct sunlight for about 6 hours and soil that is rich and fertile. And depending on the species, the growing zone varies, mostly from 5 to 8.

The soil beneath the cherry blossom tree should have good drainage and need space of around 15 to 30 in height, with a canopy just as wide. Hence, choose a location that can support the mature size.

Cherry blossom trees planted keeping enough space
Cherry blossom trees planted keeping enough space

Note that the hardiness zone for both of them varies according to the species, so I suggest checking it for your bought variety.

10. The Difference Between Their Scents

Apple flowers can be single, semi-double, or double with white, pink, magenta, or red color. They are highly fragrant with hints of wild roses, jasmine, honey, and water lily.

Highly fragrant apple blossoms
Highly fragrant apple blossoms

While on the other hand, cherry blossoms have a subtle and delicate smell, including the flowers of Somei Yoshino. When you hold a flower under your nose, you will get a trace of a soft scent.

Smelling cherry blossoms
Smelling cherry blossoms

You may pour hot water over the flowers for a genuine whiff of the cherry blossom scent. The rising steam will give you an elegant and sweet aroma.

11. History of Their Festivals

As I said earlier cherry blossoms are a national obsession in here, Japan. We love to celebrate and cherish the blossoms’ beauty which only exists for a few weeks.

From family to group of friends, people of all ages gather under the blooming cherry tree to appreciate its beauty. And this flower-watching party is known as hanami.

Hanami festival in Japan
Hanami festival in Japan

Hanami is a centuries-old Japanese tradition. The custom is believed to start during the Nara period (710 –794) when ume blossoms were admired initially.

However, by the Heian period (794–1185), sakura (cherry blossoms) had gained popularity, and hanami had become associated with it.

If you travel to Japan in spring, you simply can’t leave without admiring the beauty of sakura and experiencing a hanami party yourself.

Stunning cherry blossom view in Japan
Stunning cherry blossom view in Japan

Apart from that, the cherry blossom festival is also celebrated annually in Washington, D.C, after Japan gave about 3,000 ornamental cherry trees in 1912.

Unlike cherry blossoms, the apple blossom festival is more recognized in the United States.

One of the most prominent apple blossom festivals is Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival which runs for 14 days annually in spring in Winchester, Virginia. First organized in 1924, it is one of the national feasts in Virginia.

Besides this, there are other celebrations such as Apple Blossom Tyme Festival in Colborne, Apple Blossom Festival in Annapolis, and many more.

Anyway, it’s the end of today’s comparative discussion; hence l will present my final words now.

Conclusion

After going through my apple blossom vs cherry blossom writing, hopefully, you gained a broad knowledge about them.

Both of these blossoms look absolutely stunning while in full bloom. If they hit your interest, you can choose either one or both to plant for yourself to make your yard more attractive.

When nature is feeding us with beauty, all we humans need is to keep it alive with care and love. Whether it’s cherry blossom, apple blossom, peach blossom, or other trees, let’s continue to appreciate them for our own benefit.

Lastly, have a great day…