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New wild cherry tree species discovered in Japan for first time in a century

Flowers of a Kumanozakura cherry tree, a newly identified species. (Photo courtesy of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute)

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki -- A wild cherry tree species native to the southern part of the Kii Peninsula was confirmed by the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute as a heretofore unidentified species, and was named "Kumanozakura," it has been learned.

The discovery marks the first time a new cherry tree species has been found in Japan in about 100 years. Only nine species of wild cherry trees had been confirmed in the country before the Kumanozakura finding, while there are many cultivated forms such as the Somei Yoshino.

Kumanozakura cherry trees have smaller leaves than Yamazakura and Kasumizakura trees, and bloom in mid- to late March, about a month earlier than the latter two. The new species grows in an area of about 90 kilometers north to south and about 60 kilometers east to west along the Kumano River, including the city of Kumano, Mie Prefecture.

A Kumanozakura cherry tree, a newly identified species. (Photo courtesy of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute)

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