All About Japan

Quiz! Cherry or Plum Blossom?

| Cherry Blossoms , Flowers
Quiz! Cherry or Plum Blossom?

Japan is very famous for its beautiful blossoms, symbols of the changing of seasons. Plum blossoms (ume) represent of the end of winter while sakura (cherry blossoms) indicate the coming of spring. Yet many have trouble distinguishing the two. This 10-question quiz will determine if you're a blossom beginner or a prunus pundit!

1. Petal Power

1. Petal Power

While both cherry and plum blossoms have similar petals, the ends of the petals of the flower above are rounded, without a split in the middle. This is often the easiest way to distinguish the two flowers.

So, which is it: sakura or ume? Remember your answer!

2. Red Leaf, Green Leaf

2. Red Leaf, Green Leaf

Another easy way to tell the difference between cherry and plum blossoms at a glance is by looking at the leaf color. One type primarily has green leaves, while the other has red or purplish leaves. That second color is a hint!

(And while the latter tree type occasionally has green leaves that appear as if they unrolled as they grew, this is only in the case of trees with white flowers, not pink ones. Ahem.)

Too complicated? Then just look at the picture above and decide if it's a cherry blossom or a plum blossom!

3. Best Bud-dies

3. Best Bud-dies

One major different between cherry and plum blossoms are the number of flowers that emerge from a single bud. This tree's buds only contain one flower per bud, while the other tree has several flowers growing in a cluster. What do you think this one is?

4. Breaking 'Bud'

4. Breaking 'Bud'

Unlike the previous photo, this one's a good example of several flowers emerging from a single bud. Which blossom is this, plum or cherry?

5. Seeing Colors

One of the many reasons why this tree is ubiquitous in springtime is its variety of colors. While both trees boast blossoms of white and pink, only this tree produces yellow and greenish flowers that can also be found all around Japan. This is an easy one!

6. Barking Up the Wrong Tree

6. Barking Up the Wrong Tree

If you can't see the split petals of the flowers, a great way to tell the difference is looking at the bark. This blossom tree's bark has horizontal raised lines, called lenticels, while the other tree has darker bark without the stripes.

7. More Bark Than Bite

7. More Bark Than Bite

If you couldn't already tell by the rounded petals and single buds, the dark bark of this tree, without horizontal striations, is a big hint.

8. The Nose Knows

8. The Nose Knows

While it's hard to determine the smell based on a photograph, those with a nifty nose know that this tree has a stronger, flowery smell that wafts in the breeze. The other blossom, with a few mid-season exceptions, only has a faint cerise scent. You'll have to get put your sniffer in the flower just to get a good whiff.

9. Take a Guess

9. Take a Guess

Notice the striped bark, the multiple blossoms blooming from each bud, and the split petals? With three hints, can you say for sure if this is ume or sakura?

10. Last One

10. Last One

Is this a plum blossom or cherry blossom? As we learned earlier, both plants can be white and have green leaves. If you're stumped, look at the questions above and find clues to help you choose correctly!

Once you're ready, head to the next page for the results!

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