Botanists seek help in tree count

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The Independent Online

The first ever census of cherry trees in the UK is being undertaken to map where they grow and when they flower, the Natural History Museum said yesterday.

Botanists at the museum are calling for the public's help with the cherry-tree count, the flowering of which in streets, parks and gardens around the country they described as a "classic sign of spring",

It is hoped that the information will help researchers gain a better insight into the UK's cherry tree population and into how changes in the climate will affect flowering and fruiting times.

Alongside the count of cherry trees, which will run for three years, the Natural History Museum is also launching a wider survey of the most common groups of trees in urban areas during the next few weeks.

Bob Press, associate keeper of botany at the museum, said: "A classic sign of spring, cherries are easy to spot because of their beautiful, colourful blossom. Now, they've started to flower, we're asking people to try to identify and map where every cherry tree is in this first ever census of cherries. People often associate blossom with cherries but not all blossom is the result of cherry trees and it can be easy to be tricked into thinking you're looking at cherry blossom when actually it may be plum, apple or pear blossoms. So we're encouraging people to familiarise themselves with cherries and learn about their identification."

The survey is focusing on nine of the types of cherry found in the UK, including wild cherries (Prunus avium) and morello cherries (Prunus cerasus) which are cultivated for their fruit.