Before the cherry blossoms start to bloom next month, locals can head to the DC War Memorial to see their slightly-less-famous friends—the Japanese plum trees. Here’s what to know about these blossoming trees:
You probably won’t see any actual plums, which is fine
Leslie Frattaroli, a National Park Service program manager for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, says these are fruit-producing trees. However, Frattaroli says the period when these trees will produce fruit is difficult to determine, as there isn’t a lot of legacy data on the trees.
The delightful blossoms of Japanese plum trees begin to show in late January & February – months before our famous cherry blossoms. A popular subject in traditional painting & poetry of East Asia, 3 Japanese plums are blooming now near the D.C. War Memorial #WashingtonDC pic.twitter.com/CRajgitlYy
— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) February 9, 2021
You won’t have to beat the crowds to see them
Unlike the District’s famous cherry blossoms, the plum tree blossoms don’t have a festival or parade celebrating their bloom. Even though only three of the plum trees are currently in bloom, their limited national prominence ensures that locals won’t have to compete with tourists for a prime viewing spot.
The trees are experiencing some turnover—yes, turnover
Frattolini says there are between three to seven Japanese plum trees around the DC War Memorial. The number is hard to pinpoint, as she sees a lot of tree turnovers. She says the large number of people who visit the area puts a lot of stress on the critical root systems of the trees—leading to turnover.
They add some much-needed color to a bleak time of year
Between snow, cloudy skies, and freezing rain, there’s no doubt the District is experiencing a dreary winter. A hint of color is needed—and the plum blossoms provide that. With bright pink petals, the blossoms strike a welcome contrast with the gray skies over the region (and make spring feel a little bit closer).
You can see them right now
Frattaroli says the trees are expected to be in bloom for the next several weeks—and should hit their peak bloom next week.