Smarty Pants Podcast

Sakura Fever

How an English eccentric saved Japan’s beloved cherry trees—and spread them around the world

By Stephanie Bastek | March 18, 2022

Wild, blossoming cherries are native to many diverse lands, from the British Isles and Norway to Morocco and Tunisia. But they’re most associated with Japan, where the sakura is the national flower. These days, though, you’ll find blossoming cherries everywhere, on practically every continent. For that, we must thank a lot of dedicated botanists, who braved world wars and long sea voyages—and endured repeated failures—to spread the sakura around the world. But there’s one naturalist in particular we can thank: Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram. Journalist Naoko Abe joins us on the podcast to share how this English eccentric saved some of Japan’s most iconic cherry blossoms—from the spectacular Great White Cherry to the pink Hokusai—from extinction. This episode originally aired in 2019.

Go beyond the episode:

Cherry varieties discussed:

  • Taihaku / Prunus serrulata taihaku / Great white cherry
  • Somei-yoshino / Prunus x yedoensis / Tokyo cherry

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast

Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)

Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Comments powered by Disqus