Prunus 'Matsumae-shizuka'

Prunus ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ (Prunus ‘Fragrant Cloud’): A Gem in Japanese Flowering Cherries

Prunus ‘Matsumae-shizuka’, Prunus serrulata ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ also known as Prunus ‘Fragrant Cloud’. It is a highly esteemed cultivar within the Matsumae collection of Japanese flowering cherries. This exquisite tree is celebrated for its captivating, fragrant blossoms and striking seasonal foliage, making it a prized addition to gardens and landscapes.

Botanical Background

Genus: Prunus
Species: Prunus serrulata (Japanese Cherry)
Cultivar: ‘Matsumae-shizuka’
Family: Rosaceae

The Prunus genus encompasses a diverse group of trees and shrubs, including cherries, plums, almonds, apricots, and peaches. Prunus serrulata, commonly known as Japanese cherry or sakura, is native to East Asia and is renowned for its ornamental flowering varieties.

History and Origin

The ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ cultivar was developed in the 1960s by Masatoshi Asari as part of the Matsumae collection of Japanese flowering cherries. The name ‘Shizuka’ translates to ‘Fragrant Cloud,’ aptly describing the tree’s profuse and aromatic blossoms. This cultivar has gained recognition for its outstanding ornamental qualities and has received the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Award of Garden Merit.


Growth Habit: ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ is a medium-sized, vigorous, deciduous tree with a spreading, slightly ascending habit. Initially erect, the tree broadens with age, forming an elegant and picturesque canopy.

Height and Spread: After 10 years, this tree typically reaches a height of 5 meters (16 feet) and a spread of 3 meters (10 feet). Mature specimens can grow up to 10 meters (33 feet) tall and 6 meters (20 feet) wide.

Flowers: In May, ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ produces large clusters of semi-double white flowers, each measuring 5-6 cm (2-2.5 inches) across. As the flowers age, they develop a delicate pinkish hue, adding to their charm. The blossoms are highly fragrant, a rare trait among flowering cherries, and are borne in drooping clusters of 4-5 flowers.

Foliage: The long-pointed, toothed leaves emerge in a coppery-bronze color, maturing to a rich mid-green during summer and turning fiery orange in autumn. The leaves are 17-20 cm (6.75-8 inches) long, providing a lush and vibrant backdrop for the flowers.

Growing Conditions and Care for Prunus ‘Matsumae-shizuka’:

Hardiness: This cultivar is hardy in all of the UK and northern Europe, capable of withstanding temperatures down to -20°C (-4°F).

Light Requirements: For the best flower display and autumn color, plant ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ in full sun.

Soil Requirements: This tree thrives in well-drained, moderately fertile soil. It adapts to a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils, but it is best to avoid chalky soils.

Watering: While the tree is establishing, regular watering is crucial. Once established, it becomes more drought-tolerant, but occasional watering during prolonged dry periods will support healthy growth.

Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth and abundant flowering.

Pruning: Minimal pruning is required. Prune wayward or crossing branches to maintain a healthy framework. Pruning is best done when the tree is dormant in late winter to early spring, with some pruning in summer or autumn to prevent sap bleeding.

Pests and Diseases

Pests: Watch for aphids, caterpillars, and bullfinches, which can cause damage to the foliage and flowers.

Diseases: Prunus ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ can be susceptible to silver leaf, honey fungus, blossom wilt, and bacterial canker. Prevent these infections by ensuring good airflow through the branches, spacing trees well apart, and promptly removing any infected areas.


Propagation Methods: This cultivar can be propagated by grafting or budding onto a suitable rootstock. These methods ensure that the desirable characteristics of the cultivar are maintained in the new plants.


Prunus ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ or Prunus ‘Fragrant Cloud’ is a remarkable ornamental cherry tree that brings a touch of elegance and fragrance to any garden. Its stunning spring blossoms, vibrant autumn foliage, and vigorous growth habit make it a standout choice for gardeners seeking a beautiful and resilient tree. With proper care and maintenance, ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ will reward you with years of visual delight and aromatic blooms.

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