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Tree spotlight: Yoshino Cherry

The Yoshino Japanese Flowering Cherry

The Story

Upon learning of First Lady Taft’s desire to plant Japanese Cherry trees in Washington, Japan offered to donate 2000 trees on behalf of the city of Toyko. The trees arrived in 1910, but much to the disappointment of all were infested with insects and disease. President Taft had no choice but to have the trees destroyed and burned. This incident led to the U.S. Congress of the Plant Quarantine Act of 1912, which was the first action taken to prevent the introduction of pests to the United States.
In response to this, Japan graciously sent another 3,000 trees to Washington. Recent investigations have discovered that some of the original 1910 shipment may have been spared for quarantine and observation. Today at what is now the East Potomac Golf Course stand 18-20 old, large Yoshino Cherry trees, deliberately planted 50 apart. This spacing is typical of a quarantine project. These trees show insect damage which would make sense and genetic make-up does not match the trees later planted by the first lady in 1912. If this is the case then these Cherry trees would be the oldest and join other historically significant trees in the United States.


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