The Man Who Changed the Face of Spring

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


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.

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.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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