Flowering Cherries
Flowering cherry tree at In the Woods
Flowering cherry tree at "In the Woods."

David Fairchild and the Washington, D.C. Flowering Cherries

A Gift of Blossoms

The flowering cherry trees that bloom every spring in Washington, D.C. draw in admiring visitors from around the world, yet few know that this delightful display is largely due to the efforts of David Fairchild. During the development of the city in the early 1900s, the planners were urged to line the avenues with trees. Dr. Fairchild, who was serving as head of the USDA Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction Section, believed that the flowering cherry trees that grew so well in Japan would be an excellent choice for this key location. He and Marian had been successful in growing several Japanese cherry trees at their nearby home, "In the Woods," so he could vouch for their adaptability to local conditions.

Burning first shipment of cherry trees
Burning of first shipment of cherry trees







Although there were no funds to purchase trees, Dr. Fairchild drew on the good relationships developed with botanists and officials in Japan during his expeditions for a solution to the problem. In 1910, the mayor of Tokyo sent our country 2,000 flowering cherry trees, a gift from the people of Japan. Ghastly as it now seems, that original shipment, suspected of harboring insects, was quarantined and burned. Showing great generosity, the mayor sent another shipment in 1912. These trees passed through quarantine and became the core of the collection of trees that now grace Washington each spring with a riot of beautiful and fragrant blooms.

Return to Library and Archive home


Unless otherwise stated, all photographs on this page property of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Please contact the Archivist for permission to use or reproduce photographs.

Please contact:
Nancy Korber
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424
fax 305/665-8032