Someone asked me a few days ago “what is the difference between cherry blossom and plum blossom?” Then I thought I should write an article on this topic. Most of the people who have not seen cherry blossoms or plum blossoms together they might think that they are both same. The real thing is they are not same at all. We can differentiate them seeing mostly their appearance and shapes.

Mount_Yoshino_Cherry_Blossom_Japan
Mount Yoshino Cherry Blossom, Japan. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

If you want to be an aficionado of cherry and plum blossoms then I guess you better learn their characteristic and facts first. Thus how you could reveal their differences. However, as I am here to express my knowledge here with you, I would try my best to deliver you the correct information. Let’s get started.

The Leaves:

The leaves of a cherry tree are green and they are unfolding. On the other hand plum tree’s leaves are fully reddish purple and unrolled though some varieties have green leaves.

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Cherry Trees That Has Green Leaves. Photo Credit: skyseeker at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
Plum_Blossom_Leaves_Japan
Reddish Purple Color Leaves With Blossoms. Photo Credit: Sarah Katzenell at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Petals:

Cherry blossom have a small split at the end of each petal, whereas plum blossoms don’t have split at the end of each petal. In fact, it is one of the main characteristics of between these two trees. Take a look at this picture well shown below, I guess you see the flowers have split at the end of each petal.

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Cherry Blossom at Rikugien Park in Tokyo. Photo Credit: Tadashi Okoshi at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
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Plum Blossom Petals! Photo Credit: t.shigesa at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

 The Bud:

Cherry blossom buds are oval. From one cherry bud, there is a possibility of coming out more than one cherry, where on the other hand only one plum blossom comes out of a single bud and its buds are round.

Plum_Blossom_Bud_Japan
Plum Buds Look Round! Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
Cherry_Blossom_Buds_Japan
Cherry Blossom Buds. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Fragrance:

Plum blossoms have a sweet flowery fragrant smell that what I know. It is hard to say that beautiful sakura (cherry) does not have sweet flowery fragrance that ume (plum) has. It has a very light fragrance!

Red_Plum_Blossom_in_Nishinomiya_Japan
Red Plum Blossoms in Nishinomiya, Japan. Photo Credit: pelican at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Color:

White cherry blossom is quite famous in Japan. Except having white cherry blossoms we do have light pink, dark pink cherry blossoms. So far in my life, I have seen dark red, pink and white plum blossoms at different public parks and temples.

Mount_Yoshino_Pink_Sakura_Japan
Pink Cherry Blossoms, Mount Yoshino, Japan. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Bark:

The bark of plum tree does not have distinctive horizontal lines and bark color is a bit darker, whereas cherry trees have light gray barks in which you may see small distinctive horizontal lines.

Plum_Tree_Bark_Japan
Plum Tree Bark Look Different Than Cherry Tree. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
Cherry_Tree_Bark_Japan
Gray Color of Bark! So, It Is a Cherry Tree. Photo Credit: Tadashi Okoshi at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Shape of Flower:

I think if you could figure their flower shapes out then you can easily identify which one is cherry and plum blossom. Well, the shape of a plum blossom is round. Yes, that’s exactly round! If you take a look at a cherry blossom then you will find its shape looks round but has got umbrella shape.

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These Are Plum Blossoms Because Their Shapes Look Round. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
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Cherry Flower Shape! Photo Credit: electricnude at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Blooming Season:

Here in Japan, blooming season of plum comes on early February. While on the other hand cherry blossom appears on April.

I think these are the main characteristics which could reveal what is plum and cherry blossom if you are confused recognizing them. I hope this helps you a lot. Have a great spring season in Japan, that is what I hope for. Please take a lot of pictures of beautiful plum and cherry blossoms!