GPS coordinates :
50.8167 , 4.3538
Scientific inventory
Contributors :
A stroll around the Tenbosch-Lepoutre neighbourhood


Category :
Arbre remarquable
Latin name :
Prunus serrulata 'Kanzan'
French name :
Cerisier du Japon Kanzan
Dutch name :
Japanse sierkers
English name :
Japanese cherrytree
Family :
Height :
8 m
Targeted height :
This species can grow up to 10 m
Diameter of the crown :
10 m
Trunk circumference :
212 cm
Expected circumference :
200 cm
Expected longevity :
Can live between 50 and 100 years
Origin / Indigenous
Favorite soil :
All types, but not too damp, well drained
Favorite climate

Features and characters of the individual

Japanese cherry trees: facts and stories

Every year, cherry trees blossom in a magnificent spectacle. They mark the start of spring.

The traditional calendar in Japan divides the year into 72 micro-seasons, all related to events in nature. One of the most anticipated is the Sakura hajimete saku (the first cherry blossoms). For the whole country, this time of year is full of emotions, marking the beginning of a period of collective contemplation. It also signals that the hanami festivities (flower viewing) can kick off.

Japan is home to large forests of cherry trees. The first blossoms appear in the south of the country, before gradually spreading north. The blossom forecast (known locally as the cherry blossom front) is announced each year via various media, which helps everyone in Japan plan their hanami visits. Many people take days off to meet loved ones for picnics surrounded by cherry blossoms.

This passion for cherry trees in Japan developed at the beginning of the 17th century. For 200 years, far from the eyes of the rest of the world, the Japanese created more than 200 different species and cultivars of cherry tree. They also planted cherry trees in their thousands.

By the 19th century, European botanists were seduced by these wonderful specimens. Landscape architects then made them popular over here during the 20th century, planting them by the dozen along urban avenues for decorative purposes. Since the 1930s, planting cherry trees has come back into fashion time and time again. The most successful cultivar is called Kanzan, because of its exuberant displays of blossom each year.

Did you know?

Cherry tree bark resembles a multi-layered coat or suit...

The outside is covered with an elegantly smooth, glossy and grainy texture, like wild silk. This layer of the bark fits the tree like a glove while it is younger. The colouring adapts to the different shapes and sections of the tree: grey on the trunk and a coppery shade on the branches.

Little raised ovals of light brown create pretty additional details, whilst also serving as small air vents that allow the tree to breathe through its layers of bark.

The surface of this coat doesn’t expand with the tree though: as the tree grows, the surface of the bark develops cracks in several places, forming strips that start to curl up before eventually flaking off. Once this outer coat has been worn out, the inside of the suit is revealed.

We start to see the lining inside, which is a thick, rough layer that regenerates from the inside. This layer is insulating and waterproof, as well as protective against external attacks. The older the outer bark, the more visible this internal part becomes.

Unlike humans, trees can’t change their bark like we change our coats; they keep what they can and transform as needed.

The benefits of Japanese cherry trees

Japanese cherry trees have a decorative effect wherever they grow. Their blossoms are magnificent in spring, and their bark is remarkable in winter. Their benefits are aesthetic overall. Their exotic origins help with diversifying the range of trees in the city. They also boost biodiversity, as their abundant blossoms are a source of food for insects.

How to recognise a Japanese cherry


oval-shaped (ovate), elongated, with serrated edges


green-bronze in spring; dark green in summer; yellow and sometimes orange in autumn; and no foliage in winter (deciduous)


pink, double-flowered, arranged in compact clusters




greyish brown, smooth, with small light brown marks (lenticels); flakes off in strips

Specifics about this tree

When you walk around the side of the church in Place Georges Brugmann, you come across this Japanese cherry around the back. According to the aerial views by Bruciel (see image gallery), this cherry was planted between 1971 and 1977. Was it planted because cherry trees were trendy at the time? Was it more by chance? Or was it a carefully thought-out decision?

Traditionally, it would be lime trees being planted next to churches, but they don’t produce their blossom until May or June. With cherry trees though, they blossom around 25th March in their native Japan. For pedestrians in Ixelles, this cherry tree’s blossom announces the start of spring. It could also coincide with another event around the same time though, specifically for parishioners attending Église Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation d’Ixelles: the feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on 25th March each year. This cherry tree’s blossoming could therefore evoke the archangel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, when he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus.

Whatever the reason for its planting, this tree was put here to attract attention. In the modern day, it performs this role well. In fact, it is one of the 20 largest cherry trees in the region. The striking thing about this specimen is its strangely vibrant appearance. Its trunk turns back on itself, and its bark is splitting all over. Its roots can also be seen lifting up the soil. All of this gives the impression that this cherry tree is transforming in front of our very eyes—in real time.

The tree is undergoing a metamorphosis... With its magnificent blossoms that coincide with spring and a message from god, all that’s needed now is a good storyteller to create a new myth for the city.

(Story and photos created by Priscille Cazin- Sylvolutions)

This portrait is:

- Enriched with an illustration from the Belgian Federal State Collection on permanent loan to the Meise Botanical Garden.

- An initiative of Christos Doulkeridis, Mayor of Ixelles , Audrey Lhoest, portfolio holder for Environment, Green Spaces and Planting, and Tourism and the Ixelles Communal executive

Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
© Bruciel 1930/35
© Bruciel 1977
© Bruciel 1984
© Bruciel