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:
- Naoko Abe’s The Sakura Obsession
- If you’re in Washington, D.C., you need not visit the (closed) tidal basin to view the cherries—here is a map trees blossoming all over the city
- The National Park Service created a guide to the cherry blossom varieties in the city
- Smithsonian’s list of the best places to see cherry blossoms around the world
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.
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