Think Pink: New Breed Of Cherry Blossom Marks 100th Anniversary | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Think Pink: New Breed Of Cherry Blossom Marks 100th Anniversary

Play associated audio
A researcher checks in on cherry blossom plants at the National Arboretum.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A researcher checks in on cherry blossom plants at the National Arboretum.

Geneticists at the National Arboretum have developed a new type of cherry blossom to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the original gift of trees from Japan to the District of Columbia. The most notable thing about the new buds? They're much more pink than their older counterparts. 

Back in 1912, when the cherry blossoms were planted along the Tidal Basin, there wasn't a whole lot of variation in trees available. But breeders have been busy since then, and the latest addition is a hybrid blossom called Helen Taft. 

"What makes this tree different from the other Yoshinos you see on the Tidal Basin is its pink flower color," says Margaret Pooler, a research geneticist at the U.S. National Arboretum. "It starts out pink, and stays pink, and, in fact, it fades to even darker pink in the center of the flowers."

The hybrid was named for first lady Helen Taft, who came up with the idea of planting cherry blossoms around D.C. in the first place. The new breed, which is a cross between two different species, took 31 years to develop.  

"The seed parent came from a cutting of an original tidal basin tree that was planted in 1912 by the Japanese ambassador's wife, Iwa Chinda, and the First Lady Helen Taft," says Pooler.

The new variety will help improve genetic diversity among cherry blossoms, which should help defend against diseases as well, Pooler adds. The Helen Taft hybrid has been released to commercial growers, but it won't hit nurseries for another five years. 

NPR

Christmas Bells Are Ringing, And Cable Holiday Movies Are Unrelenting

Christmas cable movies are a genre unto themselves. We take a look at some of the Hallmark (and other) romances that are surprisingly big business this time of year.
NPR

Coca-Cola Wades Into Milk Business With 'Fairlife'

The milk is now for sale in a limited number of stores — including the Coborn's in Belle Plaine, Minn. Ari Shairo talks with Coborn's dairy manager, Steven Thueringer.
WAMU 88.5

Forthcoming MoCo Legislation Targets Smoking, Alcohol, Pinball

The start of Maryland's General Assembly session is a little less than two months away, but state lawmakers are already crafting bills that propose certain alcohol and tobacco regulations. And pinball.
NPR

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

Wilson's descriptions of Michael Brown reminded some people of negative depictions of African-Americans in history. Recent studies suggest these perceptions have deeper psychological roots.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.