News & Politics

Cherry Blossoms Reach Peak Bloom

Just in time for the end of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But please don't touch the trees.

Incontrovertible proof of spring. Photograph by Flickr user Danny Lee.

The National Park Service decreed Thursday morning that spring has unambiguously arrived in Washington with the Yoshino cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin reaching a state of peak bloom.

At least 70 percent of the cherry blossoms were blooming this morning, the NPS announced in an all-caps press release, for one of the latest peak bloom dates on record. The blossoms peaked on April 11 in 1993, while the long-term average peak date is April 4.

While peak bloom means the Mall will be at its most scenic, hitting that mark on a Thursday also means this weekend will be clogged with blossom-gawking tourists on the final weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The NPS encourages visitors to take plenty of photos of the cherry blossoms, but sternly warns not to pluck any of those fluttering pink petals from a tree. It’s illegal, and it’s bad for the plants.

“Picking them off the tree for yourself is not OK,” the NPS advises. “Whenever a twig is broken off of a tree, new blossoms will never grow from that part of the tree again.” It’s also not cool to climb them and hang from limbs.

This weekends weather forecast suggests prime blossom-viewing hours, with mostly sunny conditions and temperatures hitting the 70s and maybe even 80 degrees on Saturday and Sunday. It’s also the final weekend of Metro’s annual month-long break from track work, and the final weekend of the DC government’s seasonal parking ticket bonanza.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.