Kwanzan Vs Yoshino Cherry Tree: Which One to Pick?

In the blooming spring, you decided to visit Japan!

Most significantly, you are going to be stunned by the cherry blossoms everywhere that make our land, Japan, look like a fairyland. You will find various types of cherry trees here and may even want to grow one for yourself.

Of all the varieties, Kwanzan and Yoshino are two of the most popular ones that are suited for yards and gardens. And, if you want to grow one of them or just casually want to know about their different features, you are at the right place.

Today, I will highlight the differences between these two in my Kwanzan vs Yoshino cherry tree writing.

Keep reading to explore all the unknown facts!

Kwanzan Vs Yoshino Cherry Tree: Learn All The Core Differences Between Them

In Japan, there are numerous varieties of flowering cherry trees. Kwanzan and Yoshino are two of the most popular ones.

They have several characteristic dissimilarities that make each of them unique and beautiful in their own way.

The core difference between Yoshino and Kwanzan cherry trees is the flowers. Kwanzan tree has flowers with lots of petals of bright pink color, while Yoshino has the usual number of white petals.

Kwanzan cherry blossoms and Yoshino cherry blossoms

Additionally, Kwanzan flourishes a bit earlier than Yoshino.

Besides these, there are many more differences, and I think a side-by-side comparison will be better to show you their variance in a blink.

Yoshino Vs Kwanzan Cherry Tree Comparison Table

The below table contains their variation based on various measures.

Terms of Comparison Kwanzan Yoshino
Botanical Name
Prunus serrulata
Prunus yedoensis
Also Known As
Kanzan, Sekiyama
Somei Yoshino
Mature Height
30 to 40 feet
40 to 50 feet
Mature Spread
30 to 40 feet
25 to 40 feet
Growth Rate
Fast
Fast
Hardiness Zone
5 – 9
5 – 8
Blooming Time
During April
March to April
Sunlight Requirement
Full sun to partial shade
Full sun to partial shade
Soil pH
6.5-7.0
6.5-7.0
Soil Composition
Moist, well-draining
Moist, well-draining
Watering
One to two times per week
When the top two inches of soil are dry
Flower Color
Bright pink
Pink or white
Lifespan
About 15 to 25 years
About 80 years
Diseases
Powdery mildew, leaf curl, root rot, and fireblight
Mildews, blights, and rots
Pests
Aphids, caterpillars, borers, scale, spider mites, and Japanese beetles
Aphids, scale, borers, caterpillars, and Japanese beetles

The above differences are not enough for you to distinguish them.

Kwanzan and yoshino cherry tree side by side

Therefore, I am presenting some important facts by which you will be able to know them properly.

But, first, I would like to give an introduction to both trees as you may not know much about them.

Introduction to Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms Tree

This flowering cherry tree was named after a mountain in Japan and is native to China, Korea, and Japan. Its original name is “Sekiyama,” but it’s rarely used now.

Kwanzan Cherry tree in Japan
Kwanzan Cherry tree in Japan

It was introduced to America in 1903 and was made popular by the floral displays at the yearly Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Cherry blossoms in Washington
Cherry blossoms in Washington

This ornamental tree grows in a vase-shaped form. Since it’s a splendid specimen, you can plant it in containers, walkways or streets, and buffer strips.

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Even you will be able to use them as a bonsai tree. Cool, right?

Cherry blossom tree bonsai
Cherry blossom tree bonsai

They look absolutely cute in a bonsai form.

Anyway, Kwanzan requires low maintenance, but unfortunately, they have a short lifespan that usually doesn’t exceed 15-25 years.

But, you know what, these trees have a beauty that can make people stunned right away, so I will say it is well worth planting them.

Stunning Kwanzan cherry blossom tree
Stunning Kwanzan cherry blossom tree

Okay, let’s move on to Yoshino now.

Introduction to Yoshino Cherry Blossoms Tree

Native to Japan, Yoshino (or Japanese flowering cherry trees) is a standout at every cherry blossom festival in the world. Watching their stunning whitish-pink blossom can soothe the mind instantly.

Yoshino flowering cherry trees
Yoshino flowering cherry trees

They have a vase-shaped canopy, spreading from an upright branching pattern with gray bark. These trees can live long, about 80 years, even more with proper care.

There are different types of Yoshino cherry trees, such as Somei Yoshino, Akebono, and Shidare-Yoshino (a weeping variety). Each of them has a distinct charm, and you can choose any of them as per your preference.

Different Yoshino cherry trees
Different Yoshino cherry trees

Alright, as I am done with the short introduction, it’s time to present the facts that make them different from each other.

Facts That Set Them Apart

Both Yoshino and Kwanzan cherry trees have some characteristics that make them different. And it’s time to dive into the descriptive discussion so that you can learn about them in detail.

First, let’s know the difference between their flower appearance thoroughly.

1. Both of Their Flowers Have A Distinct Look

Beauty at its best!

Yes, the kwanzan cherry tree has one of the most spectacular flowers in Japan as it has a dramatic, jaw-dropping look. The flowers have a pompom shape that can draw your attention instantly.

Kwanzan cherry flowers
Kwanzan cherry flowers

Each blossom has several petal rows. Petals that grow near the center are shorter than those growing at the edges. Therefore, the kwanzan tree’s flowers look much more pretty and splendid.

flowers look of kwanzan tree
Close look of kwanzan tree flowers

Their bunches of lush flowers will remind you of hydrangea.

Another key feature is that the edges of their petals are wavy, which makes the blossom eye-catching. The inflorescence has around 12 to 13 flowers.

Several kwanzan flowers
kwanzan flowers

On the other hand, the Yoshino flower has an ordinary look with five petals. The number of flowers in the cluster is ten on average.

Yoshino cherry blossoms with 5 petals
Yoshino cherry blossoms with 5 petals

By the way, their blossoms differ not only in shape but also in color.

Yoshino has pale pink flowers that seem white from a distance. Only when you get closer to them, you will notice the pink color.

Yoshino cherry blossom from far and close
Yoshino cherry blossom from far and close

Kwanzan blossoms are brighter, and they have a flashy pink color that is visible from far.

Personally, I like kwanzan’s flower because of their unique and impressive appearance.

2. Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms Bloom After Yoshino

Kwanzan cherry flowers flourish a little later than Yoshino. The difference may vary from a few days to two weeks based on the climate and other conditions.

Usually, Yoshino blooms in late March through April, while Kwanzan flowers in early April to the end of the month. The variation in flowering can sometimes be 4 to 5 days.

Blooming cherry blossoms
Blooming cherry blossoms

In terms of the growth of these cherry blossoms, there is some information that you need to know.

There is a possibility that these trees won’t bloom or you will see a lack of flowers in some years. The most common reasons are spring frosts, insufficient sunlight, and not pouring enough water. Less common causes are pests, diseases, and improper pruning.

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In short, the blooming can be affected by the lack of proper maintenance. Thus, if you are interested in growing them, you better learn how to take care of a Yoshino cherry tree or Kwanzan beforehand.

3. Maintaining Kwanzan Is Messier Than Yoshino

The amount of hard work that requires these two cherry trees varies.

After blossoming, Yoshino sheds its petals and blooms within a few days. Only a small layer of the flower formed under the tree that can be easily collected with a rake and thrown away.

Small layer of shedded flowers under Yoshino
Small layer of shedded flowers under Yoshino

You will need one day to clean up all the mess under the tree.

But with Kwanzan, everything is different. These cherry trees shed flowers for a long time, and the cleaning process may take more than a week.

In case you don’t remove the fallen flowers, a pile of rubbish will be formed under the canopy. And if it rains, the dropped petals will create a sticky layer that will be pretty difficult to clean.

Pile of Kwanzan cherry flowers
Pile of Kwanzan cherry flowers

Since the kwanzan cherry flowers are larger than Yoshino with more petals, the amount of garbage will be more to maintain.

Another disadvantage of the Kwanzan tree is that its flowers and petals are tighter and do not decompose quickly.

Kwanzan flower petals
Kwanzan flower petals

Hence, Kwanzan requires more time and hassle for cleaning after flowering. You may use a leaf blower to deal with the mess faster. Also, this tool will make cleaning simple and easy.

4. Yoshino Is Bigger in Size

Even though Kwanzan looks fancier due to its elegant blooms, it reaches smaller sizes than Yoshino.

Kwanzan smaller in size than Yoshino
Kwanzan smaller in size than Yoshino

Under similar favorable conditions, the Yoshino tree can grow about 40% larger than Kwanzan. And the reason behind this variation lies in the number of flowers.

What!! Confused? You may wonder how flowers affect the growth of the tree, right?

Well, it’s because seed formation and the flowering process require a lot of energy from the plant. Therefore, it spends less energy on its growth.

Since Kwanzan produces more flowers in the inflorescences, it is relatively smaller in size. Also, this cherry tree has more complex blossoms that need more time and energy to form.

 Kwanzan produces more flowers in the inflorescences
Kwanzan produces more flowers in the inflorescences

On the contrary, Yoshino blooms less than Kwanzan and spends more energy forming new branches.

So, while planting these trees, you have to consider this difference.

Yoshino requires more area, and you should plant them away from home. The crown of these trees can spread around 50 ft (15 meters), so other plants need to be planted with a gap of at least 25 ft.

Yoshino trees planted keeping distance
Yoshino trees planted keeping distance

Now, if you want a Yoshino tree but don’t have a wide space, then there is another option for you!!

There is a weeping variety named Yoshino weeping cherry tree that has a moderate growth rate. They can reach a height of 15 – 20 feet with the same spread.

Weeping Yoshino cherry tree
Weeping Yoshino cherry tree

These cherry trees have unique flowering-dropping branches that can instantly draw the attention of your neighbor or guests!

5. Kwanzan Requires A Bit More Sunlight

The sun requirement difference between these two trees is not that much, but Kwanzan needs a little more sunlight than Yoshino.

Kwanzan requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. For profuse flowering in cooler climates (hardiness zone 5), the plant may need 8 hours of direct sunray.

As I stated before, cherry blossoms may not flower or bloom poorly due to the lack of light. Thus, plant Kwanzan in an open sunny place to get the most out of it.

Kwanzan under sufficient sunlight
Kwanzan under sufficient sunlight

Now when it comes to Yoshino, it needs a little less light. 4 hours of sunlight is enough for it in climate zone 9, though it can withstand more.

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Partial shading won’t affect the growth of Yoshino, but that doesn’t mean it can grow in the shade.

Growth of Yoshino under full to partial shade
Growth of Yoshino under full to partial shade

Both these two cherry trees will thrive in full sun (10 to 12 hours a day).

6. Kwanzan Has A Slight Wide Range of Climate Zone

Generally, Kwanzan cherry trees flourish in zones 5 to 9. Even there are examples of successful plantations in zone 4. They can be planted as far north as Nebraska and south as Texas.

kwanzan in USA
kwanzan in USA

But, remember that these plants are more comfortable in winter, and it’s essential to fertilize the roots.

In contrast, Yoshino can grow 5 to 8 hardiness zones. Therefore, it can’t tolerate the heat of the southern United States and the harsh frosts of the north.

So, you can see that the Kwanzan is suitable for wider climate conditions and is accessible to more gardeners.

In addition to variance, these two flowering cherry trees have similar features. For instance, they can grow on a large range of soils. However, they need compost with high phosphorus content for better flowering.

Compost for gardening
Compost for gardening

From time to time, these plants may get affected by pests, so you need to spray fungicides, pesticides, or neem oil.

7. Fragrance Difference Between Them

Kwanzan cherry blossoms have a slightly sweet almond scent that is quite pleasant.

Smelling Kwanzan flowers sweet almong scent
Smelling Kwanzan flowers sweet almong scent

Conversely, Yoshino has a light fragrance with hints of almond scent.

8. Yoshino Bears Fruit But Kwanzan Doesn’t

Yoshino produces small berries that are edible and nontoxic. But, they have a bitter taste, that’s why people don’t eat them. However, birds do like them.

Therefore, they will attract birds and butterflies when they produce these berries.

Another fact is that you can eat the petals of Yoshino cherry flowers and even use them in making desserts and tea.

Mochi dessert made with cherry blossom

On the other side, Kwanzan doesn’t produce any fruits. Also, their flower petals are not edible.

9. Appearance of The Leaves

Kwanzan leaves can grow roughly 4 to 5 inches in length. The leaves appear to be reddish-copper when they first emerge, then turn into deep green in the summer, then yellow and bronze in the fall.

Leaves of Kwanzan cherry tree
Leaves of Kwanzan cherry tree

For Yoshino, serrated, ovate, shiny green leaves emerge in summer. And during fall, the leaves change into yellow, orange, and red.

Leaves of Yoshino cherry tree
Leaves of Yoshino cherry tree

Okay, that’s all for the comparison. As I don’t have anything further to say, let’s move on to the final verdict.

Conclusion

This Kwanzan vs Yoshino cherry tree comparison shows each and every aspect of these flowering trees.

Whether you want to casually know about them or have a plan to choose one for your garden, I hope you got enough information for your query.

Lastly, I wanna say that both of them are absolutely beautiful. And even if you don’t find them in your respective country, I will ask you to come to my country Japan to view these precious gifts of nature.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The stem, blossoms, and leaves of the Kwanzan cherry trees are toxic for dogs.

They contain cyanogenic glucosides, a toxin that hinders the cells from absorbing and transporting oxygen properly.

Prunus serrulata, or Kwanzan cherry tree, is classified as a tree that deers hardly damage or eat. These are more deer-resistant than other varieties of cherry trees.