Tree of the Month Archive

April Tree of the Month

Pink Cloud Cherry Blossom Tree

Pasadena is very fortunate to have several Pink Cloud flowering cherry trees with dark pink flowers growing in Victory Park, Memorial Park and Central Park. These trees can also add a beautiful accent to any garden.

Some background information on how the cherry trees came to be planted in Pasadena.  In 1957 Pasadena became a sister city to Mishima in Japan, a town located about 75 miles southwest of Tokyo.  Thanks to the Sister City Committee, friendships were formed, and cultural exchanges took place between Pasadena and Mishima.  

In 2012, the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles contacted Pasadena to let them know that an unlimited number of free bareroot Pink Cloud cherry trees were being made available to select cities in Southern California that had relationships with cities in Japan. The City Council then instructed the sister city committee to obtain 50 trees. These trees were procured and donated by the Huntington Botanical Garden to Pasadena.

The trees were planted in various parks in Pasadena in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of when 3000 flowering cherry trees, a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo Japan to the United States were planted in Washington D.C. in 1912. These trees were meant to celebrate the growing friendship between the people of Japan and the United States.

This Pink Cloud variety grows 15 to 20 feet tall and as wide with a willowy round shape. The leaves are simple, alternate and toothed. The flowers have 5 petals and appear before the leaves in late March and early April.  Flowering cherry trees require full sun, good air circulation and a well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They also require some pruning during the winter.

There are many other cultivars of flowering cherry trees with blossoms ranging in color from white to dark pink. These trees produce some of the most dramatic blooms during the spring. The bloom season unfortunately lasts only a few weeks. Most cultivars live 30 to 40 years with a few exceptions such as the ones in Washington D.C. where some of the original trees that were planted in 1912 are still alive.

The sight of cherry blossoms is so spectacular people travel from all over to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in our Nation’s capital. If you can’t make it to Washington D.C. or Japan where the tradition of celebrating the cherry blooms goes back thousands of years, you can still be dazzled by the beauty of the ones growing here in Pasadena.

Article and photos by Emina Darakjy

March Tree of the Month

HANDROANTHUS HEPTAPHYLLUS, (Pink Trumpet Tree)
Synonyms: Handroanthus avellanedae, Tabebeuia impetiginosa

We are very fortunate to have several specimens of this tree growing throughout Pasadena. Several years ago, Pasadena Beautiful planted about 230 Tabebeuias on Colorado Boulevard from Wilson Street to Roosevelt Avenue.

This time of the year the trees put on an extravagant display of bright pink flowers that make drivers want to pull over to take a picture. Other areas where you can find these attractive trees growing in Pasadena are on Union Street between Arroyo Parkway and Fair Oaks Avenue; on Dayton Street between Fair Oaks Avenue and Pasadena Avenue; on Holly Street between Fair Oaks Avenue and Raymond Avenue and on Oak Knoll Ave from Walnut Street to Green Street.

This is a small to medium sized tree, 25 to 50 feet tall and almost as wide, with a light straight gray trunk, native to the tropical areas of Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. The tree is partially deciduous. Heavy clusters of showy pink flowers with a yellow throat appear on leafless branches in early spring, the spectacular display of flowers is followed by foot long seed pods that hang onto the tree until winter. This tree does better in warmer areas, is considered drought tolerant once established with no significant pest or disease problems and is suitable for planting under power lines, in parkways, parks and as an accent in a garden.

I feel it is worth sharing with you the little-known fact behind how we got to know the Tabebeuia tree. According to James E. Henrick the Senior Biologist and Curator of the Living Collection at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, the desire to introduce the Tabebeuia to Southern California originated with Dr. Russell J. Seibert, director of the Los Angeles County Arboretum from 1950 to 1955.

Unfortunately, seed sources from South America at the time were not very reliable. However, that did not deter Dr. Samuel Ayres, Jr., president of the board of trustees of the then California Arboretum Foundation, Inc., from gathering seeds of different species while vacationing in Brazil between 1953 and 1955.
As it is now, the Arboretum was a testing ground for new plants to be evaluated before they are introduced to the nursery trade. As a result of these seed gatherings, the following Tabebeuias were evaluated and produced at the Arboretum and given to local nurseries to propagate and sell to the public.

The Tabebuia chrysotricha commonly known as the golden trumpet tree with eye catching bright yellow flowers was the first to come out in 1964. The Tabebeuia impetiginosa commonly known as pink trumpet tree seen in the present photos, followed in 1979. The Tabebeuia impetiginosa ‘Pink Cloud’ with its very light pink flowers came out in 1984. And the Tabebeuia impetiginosa ‘Raspberry’ with its lavender to dark pink flowers was introduced in 1986.  Beside the above-mentioned varieties there is another gorgeous one, Tabebuia x ‘Apricot’ with beautiful apricot color flowers, it too was produced by the Arboretum in 1970 but has not been introduced yet with plans to do that in the future.

Article and photos by Emina Darakjy