TREES & plants

Higan cherry

Spring flowers of the higan cherry.

Higan cherry is a small- to medium-sized tree known for its early pink to white flowers in spring. The weeping form is most popular in the nursery trade.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Prunus subhirtella
All Common Names: 
Higan cherry, rosebud cherry, spring cherry
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet), 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-40 feet
Mature Width: 
15-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Excessive sucker growth, 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Showy flowers
Season of Interest: 
  • Early spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Round, 
  • Weeping
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate, 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Birds, 
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Needs full sun for best flowering.  Prefers a well-drained soil, pH adaptable.
asily transplanted. Prune after flowering in spring.
Cold tolerant.

Disease, pests, and problems

Short-lived, susceptible to many insest and diseases when stressed.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture 

Shiny, reddish brown bark with long horizontal lenticels.
Bark often peeling and curled.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate leaf arrangement with simple, deciduous leaves.
Linear to ovate leaf shape about 1 to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.
Dark green leaf color changing to orange red fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Single, pink flowers bloom before the leaves emerge. The 1/2 inch diameter flowers are borne in umbels with 2 to 5 flowers each.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Red fruits are oval maturing to black.

Cultivars and their differences 

Double Weeping Higan Cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula Plena Rosea'):  A weeping cultivar with pink, double flowers.

Pink Snow Showers(Prunus subhirtella 'Pisnshzam'):  A weeping cultivar with pink, single flowers.

Weeping Higan Cherry  (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula'):  This cultivar is grafted onto a  straight understock reaching 25 to 30 feet high and 35 feet wide. The pendulous oval growth becomes more mounded with age. Clear pink flowers before the leaves emerge.

Prunus subhirtella or Higan cherry