Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cherry Blossoms Are About To Fall

Cherry Tree (Prunus serralatum) on Pearse Road

I have made up my mind to post this blog entry today because I feel it necessary for anyone reading this, not having to wait until the following year if the cherry blossoms falling on Pearse Road in Ballyphehane, Cork are missed. This road connects the Kinsale Road directly with the Lough, is lined with cherry trees (Prunus serrulata) and Corkonians are very proud of these sakura indeed. So permit me now to treat of this subject in depth.

Look to the sky and watch the blossom fall

Not for as long as I can remember but for as long as I care to recall, the cherry trees on Pearse road were shown to me from the car window. We would pass this way when going to the Lough to look at the swans or when travelling the back roads to UCC. As I grew older I realised that the blossoms did not last that long at all and the trees themselves bore fruit that resembled nothing like the glazed cherries I was already familiar with whilst baking my queen cakes. (I do not bake them anymore). These cherries are from a different species Prunus avium - the wild cherry. Still, it is not the lack of recognizable fruit of which I write but of the shortness of the life of the blossom.

From the 5th century AD, the flowering cherry blossom (Sakura) has been held in high esteem by the Japanese Emperor and his court. The Japanese associate the transient beauty of the blossom with that of a human life itself. (1)

Yo no naka wa
Mikka minu ma ni
Sakura kana
[Life is short, like the three day
glory of the cherry blossom](2)

CGRMV (Cherry green ring mottle virus) is a known infection found in Prunus serrulata and other Prunus species including P. cerasus (sour cherry), P. persica (peach), P. armeniaca (apricot) and P. avium (sweet cherry) and occurs in fruit growing regions of North America, Europe, New Zealand, Japan and Africa. Up to recently, the only method of detection of this virus was through a grafting assay which would express the viral symptoms in 'Kwanzan' cherry, a woody indicator. Li and Mock show that their plate trapping RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction) technique is a reliable, quick and cheap method of detection of the virus over the grafting assay. (3)

Returning to today let me urge you all to turn your velleity to resolve, cast aside all solicitudes and take a trip down to Pearse Road and watch the cherry blossoms fall. The whole affair is short-lived but beautiful.



1. Jefferson and Fusonie, 1977, The Japanese flowering cherry trees of Washington, D.C.: a living symbol of friendship pp.1-2 [http://naldr.nal.usda.gov/NALWeb/Agricola_Link.asp?Accession=CAT78696066] Retrieved 2011-4-20
2. Masso Yoshikawa, Romance of Japanese Cherry Blossoms Closely Related to Philosophy of Life, Washington Sunday Star, April 18, 1926, ed.
3. Li and Mock, 2005, Journal of Virological Methods 129 pp. 162-169

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