fbpx Higan cherry | The Morton Arboretum

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):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

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

Seasons 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.

Location of Prunus subhirtella (Higan cherry) at the Arboretum