[HIKANZAKURA (Taiwan Cherry) ]
(Botanical name: Prunus campanulata)
* There are no spontaneous Yoshino cherries in Amami. However, we have Yoshino cherry trees that were introduced or transplanted from Mainland Japan. But to our disappointment, they never blossom as gorgeously as on the Mainland. The climate of Amami may be too warm for Yoshino cherries to grow. Instead, we have Hikanzakuras (Taiwan cherries) which have deep pink flowers in early winter as the name suggests. They are geographically distributed mainly in southern China (where they originated), Taiwan, Okinawan and Amamian Islands.
* Flowers start to bloom in mid-January on the hilltops where the temperature is a little lower than on the level ground, then the blossom front migrates down to the villages below. Funcha and Nagakumo Passes are the two main sites for watching Hikanzakura blossoms in Amami. On fine days, lots of people visit these sites for flower-watching. But Japanese White-Eyes outnumber the flower-watchers. They frequent the nectar-rich blossoms that bloom downward like a bell. They are often seen sucking the nectar, with their body upside down.
* There are a few color variations of Hikanzakura blossoms: deep pink ones (the majority), light pink ones (the minority) and pure white ones (the rarest). Flowers develop into fruit around April. The fruit (that is sweet but slightly acidic and bitter) isn't used for food.
Picture 1 Hikanzakura blossoms.
Picture 2 White-eyes frequent the flowers.
Picture 3 The fruit.
|※To enlarge, please click the photo.|