University of Washington: UW welcomes community to view cherry blossoms; peak bloom expected mid-March

The University of Washington welcomes the community and visitors to enjoy the iconic Quad cherry blossoms this spring. The cherry blossoms usually draw large crowds on campus. While masks are not required, some individuals may opt to wear a face covering. We encourage the community to be respectful of one another’s choices.

The 29 cherry trees in the Quad usually reach peak bloom the third week of March, said UW arborist Sara Shores, and this year is on track to meet that timing. Warmer temperatures and mild weather all factor into when the cherry trees start to blossom and when they reach peak bloom.

Once the trees reach peak bloom — when at least 70% of the blossoms have emerged — cooler temperatures, drier weather and lighter winds will keep the blossoms on the trees longer. The university asks that visitors not climb the trees or shake their branches, as this can cause damage.

Dozens of varieties of blossoming cherry and plum trees can be found across the Seattle area, with blooms visible from early February until, for some species, May. Petal colors range from white to light rose to dark pink, and cherry trees — unlike plums — have distinct horizontal-line patterns on their bark called lenticels. These help the trees “exhale” or release carbon dioxide and water.

Plum trees, which often are mistaken for cherry trees, bloom earlier than most cherries and don’t have lenticels on their bark.

The Seattle Department of Transportation maintains this interactive map of trees across the city. To see cherry trees in your neighborhood, click on “Explore street trees” in the top navigation bar, then click on “trees by type” and look for trees with the “Prunus” genus (cherry and plum trees).

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