A bit late, but the cherry trees on the Quad at the University of Washington finally got that memo about spring and have burst into bloom.

UW arborist Sara Shores speculates the late showing may have been due to a couple of our cold snaps last month.

While admiring cherry blossoms on the Quad is a springtime tradition for many Seattleites, the UW is asking visitors to stay distanced and not congregate in groups due to COVID-19.

Better yet, catch the bloom on the university’s live stream or use the city’s Trees for Seattle tool to find and tour cherry and plum trees near you. Click “Explore street trees” in the top navigation bar, then click on “trees by type” and look for trees with the “Prunus” genus (cherry and plum trees.)

Bloom colors range from white to light rose to dark pink, for both plum and cherry trees. But plum trees bloom earlier than most cherries and smell sweeter while cherry trees have distinct horizontal-line patterns on their bark called lenticels. These help the trees “exhale” or release carbon dioxide and water.

How to distinguish cherry trees from their plum tree relatives. (Courtesy of the University of Washington)
How to distinguish cherry trees from their plum tree relatives. (Courtesy of the University of Washington)