Identification: Whitcomb cherry, single pink, spreading, early blooming

Discussion in 'Ornamental Cherries' started by wcutler, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    This is not a question, but comments and corrections are very welcome. I'm trying to document what I wish I had known when I started as a scout for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

    I’m attaching a photo of what I think is a Whitcomb cherry, the earliest cherry I noticed (Feb 20, 2007) in Vancouver, BC, a tree with a spreading shape and small single (or semi-double) dark pink blossoms appearing before any sign of leaves. These trees are in a mini-park in the west end.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I think these are early Whitcomb blossoms, January 6, 2008. This branch is one of the very few with blossoms out yet on this tree, in Vancouver's west end.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  3. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    I think I've said this before (although possibly not in these pages): The cool weather we had in October, November and December has presumably satisfied the meagre chilling-requirement of the Whitcomb cherry. I would expect to see flowers on all of the late winter-flowering (the early-early-season) cherries. All we need now is a bit of warm weather (say, a few days > 8C) and they'll bust out all over. We should be hearing reports of 'Accolade', 'Jigatsu-zakura' (Autumnalis) and 'Autumnalis Rosea' from warm locations locally, such as White Rock, the West End and Victoria, any time now. I strongly suspect that all of these cherries have similarly low chilling-requirements.

    I've been preparing a key to the common cherries of Vancouver for our Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Cherry Scout package. I debated for some time about dates and would appreciate some feedback here:

    • early: always some flowers produced before March 1st (Jigatsu-zakura, Autumnalis Rosea, Whitcomb, Accolade)
    • mid: main flowering season March 12th to April 12th (Ama-no-gawa, Oshidori-zakura, avium, Takasago, Ito-kukuri, Yae-beni-shidare, Kiku-shidare-zakura, Snofozam, pendula, Mikuruma-gaeshi, sargentii, Spire, Okame, Ojochin, speciosa, Jo-nioi, Akebono, Somei-yoshino, serrula, Umineko, Washi-no-o, Shirotae, Tai-haku)
    • late: main flowering season after April 12th (Ukon, Ama-no-gawa, sargentii, Jo-nioi, Shiro-fugen, Shogetsu, Ichiyo, Ito-kukuri, Kiku-shidare-zakura, Pink Perfection, Kanzan)
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,792
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    There are two like this known from SW BC.

    "The pink form known as 'Rosea' is earliest. It is a beautiful bright pink on a small tree to be seen in Ross Bay Cemetery adjacent to Fairfield Road. 'Whitcombii' is from Washington State and is like 'Rosea' except more vigorous and broader. A good one is in the northeast corner of the Sunken Garden at the Butchart Gardens."

    http://www.arthurleej.com/a-victoriarosetrees.html
     
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Silly me thinking I could just quietly sneak in and post what I thought was a better blossom photo with a date comment and no-one would notice. Well, it's nice to see you guys back.

    Doug, your dates all work for the scout's photos posted lasted year (now at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vcbf) and even for my photos from the west end.

    Jan 10:
    Sorry, I missed the Aviums. I started the Avium Plena thread on April 23 with photos from April 19, and I have an unposted peak bloom photo from April 24. I'm sure I remember the single Aviums being out late as well. I think they should be added to late season, rather than moved.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2008
  6. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Wendy, indeed, I did think those were very nice shots from 2007, and clearly classic 'Whitcomb' (and I should have said so). Nice work.

    Ron, I've been on the lookout for Prunus Xsubhirtella 'Rosea' in Vancouver for years. The problem with Higan cherries (as I'm sure you know) is their propensity to contract brown rot. Vancouver isn't the best climate for Higan cherries, what with the added moisture compared with Seattle or Victoria, and the habits of local nurserymen to graft onto Pseudomonas-susceptible mazzard stock. Some years, it's tough to know whether they're going to make it through.

    Are you saying that 'Rosea' is pinker than 'Whitcomb'? If the Ross Bay tree is still there, I should like to see for myself. Actually, reading Warren and Jacobson's account reminds me that I don't generally visit Victoria in the spring. It would be good to get into cultivation some of those more obscure cultivars such as 'Stellata' (I'm sure I remember seeing this one in the 1980s in south Vancouver), 'Fukubana', 'Kokonoye' (is this 'Kokonoe'?) and 'Hizakura' (presumably 'Choshu-hizakura').
     
  7. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Well, I found a Jacobson quote I like:
    "The best is Prunus subhirtella 'Rosea' which is locally known as Whitcomb cherry (and ideally is sold as 'Whitcomb') ". http://www.arthurleej.com/a-winterbloom.html (Does the red mean he added that or removed it?)

    I'm finding the names
    Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis'
    Prunus subhirtella 'Rosea' (locally known as Whitcomb)
    'Autumnalis Rosea' (from last year's Cherry Cultivars list)
    Prunus xsubhirtella ‘Whitcomb’
    more than a little confusing. I don't suppose you can do anything about that either. But if Rosea and Whitcomb could be the same thing, that would help a little <grin>.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,792
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Some years ago I got a list of names and locations from Jacobson and went to Victoria at Higan bloom time. While all the H. Warren introductions there were interesting the button-like tightly double Higan cultivar in particular seemed like one that should have been propagated and saved. I also think the P. cerasifera 'Lindsayae' merits further use elsewhere (I have one myself and have seen it listed as being in the collections of the USNA but have seen no indication of a North American commerical presence at this time). And I liked the winter-blooming Sato Zakura cultivar, I have since seen a row of four of these at Carlton Plants in Oregon but again no sign of it being on the market.

    The P. x subhirtella 'Rosea' seen in Victoria were as described here, less vigorous (and perhaps with flowers less strongly colored when new) than the 'Whitcomb'. Do not know Jacobson's current interpretation of the relationship between these two names. He responds to all polite ("Dear Mr. Jacobson" etc.) e-mails so I suggest that approach.
     
  9. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Always fascinating. I note that the web page that Wendy quotes is reprinted from the Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin (Winter 1989-1990), while the web page to which Ron refers is reprinted from the Island Grower (1990). I was hoping for a wider spread, and hence, a more unequivocal stance on the nomenclature.

    However, in North American Landscape Trees (1996, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley), Jacobson states (page 531) that 'Whitcomb' does not equal 'Rosea'. In fact he describes 'Rosea' as "very rare" and "with a reddish calyx, unlike those of typical P. xsubhirtella. He reports that 'Whitcomb' was a sport of 'Rosea', but suggests that 'Rosea' is properly 'Beni-higan'. Probably.

    Clearly, the most common deep pink form of Prunus xsubhirtella locally, is 'Whitcomb'. It is doubtful that any other pink clones would continue to be grown (at least commercially), given that 'Whitcomb' is such a good plant in this area (and most other P. xsubhirtella cultivars are weak and more disease prone). Nevertheless, I'd like to see 'Rosea' or 'Beni-higan' (or whatever) if anyone can point it out to me.
     
  10. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    How reddish a calyx? Like this first one at the Aquatic Centre? These buds have the long stamen like on Autumnalis photo I posted. Or maybe the tree in the next three photos, from last March on Chilco between Comox and Nelson? The long stamens aren't really evident on the Chilco buds. I called that group Accolades last year.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,792
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Looks like one 'Whitcomb' and 2 'Accolade'. Habit picture too far away to tell anything.
     
  12. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    I agree.
     
  13. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    This tree at the Aquatic Centre, the one on the left, that has these very deep pink blooms right now (January 13) looks exactly the same colour as the two Accolades on the right, in the photo from last March. I didn't notice enough difference last year to look closely enough to see that the one on the left has single blossoms, but they look very different in colour now. Here's a photo of the blossom from the tree on the right.
    [Edited by wcutler 20110327: just for the record, the 'Whitcomb' at this location was damaged in a storm last year and has been removed]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  14. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    The two pictures certainly look different to me. 'Whitcomb', or what I know as that cultivar, always looks mauve-pink to me. Sometimes bright mauve pink and sometimes barely mauvish pink, but always some shade of pink with added violet. 'Accolade', on the other hand is pink, bright or pale, but only pink.

    Flower colour surely changes with physiological and environmental differences from hour to hour and year to year, but I suspect that this is a pretty slippery fish; i.e., the specific causes and effects are difficult to pin down.

    Another confounding factor is our own perception (and especially, our memory of that), which might not match the photographic evidence. I've heard that reds are notoriously difficult to capture accurately with digital cameras, for example. Then there's vocabulary. What the hell is malmaison-pink? And how about the light? What time of day, how much moisture is in the air, what's the sun's angle, etc. Other than in artificial light, how can we capture the true nature of the flower colour with any consistency? Perhaps most importantly, what stage of flower expansion are we observing?
     
  15. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Here's an example in the same photo - not a great photo, but it works for showing colour variation on the same tree.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,792
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    The flowers on the right are more advanced in development. Flowers becoming less dark as they open is common.
     
  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,792
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Jacobson's full (1996) history and description of 'Whitcomb' is

    "WHITCOMB CHERRY. Believed to be a sport of P. x subhirtella 'Rosea'. Originally planted ca. 1913 in the garden of David Whitcomb (1879-1966), who lived northwest of Seattle; propagated ca. 1925-30. Until the 1930s. rarely grown outside of the maritime Pacific Northwest (where it is common). Flowers single (or a few semi-double), deep pink, blooming in late winter or earliest spring, before the other HIGAN cultivars. Tree larger than P. x subhirtella 'Rosea' and blooms earlier, but otherwise similar. Leaves similar to those of 'Autumnalis Rosea' but darker, finer-toothed, less hairy, with more veins, and usually larger (to 4 3/4" x 2 1/4"). Compared to 'Autumnalis Rosea' the flowers are later to bloom, single, the petals wider and darker pink, the sepal don't reflex, the pedicels are shorter."

    (Size records obtained from three Seattle specimens are also listed).

    Under 'Rosea' he lists 'Ascendens Rosea' and 'Beni-higan' (in part) as synonyms:

    "PINK SPRING CHERRY. Very rare. Flowers clear shell-pink, with reddish calyx, unlike those of typical P. x subhirtella. The name 'Beni-higan' (literally, PINK HIGAN) has been used for at least three taxa, but it would seem most logically should be restricted to 'Rosea'."

    Note that he does not, in fact, equate 'Beni-higan' with 'Rosea' but instead includes 'Rosea' within a set of more than one variety that has been called 'Beni-higan'.

    Kuitert, Japanese Flowering Cherries (1999. Timber Press) observes

    "Shrubs or small trees sold now as the rosebud cherry or P. subhirtella 'Rosea' seem to be a form of the triploid P. x subhirtella rather than Collingwood Ingram's 'Beni-higan-sakura'*, but some questions remain."

    Which K. lists as a form of P. pendula var. acendens.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  18. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Here's some fall colour from Nicola minipark. The first two are a Whitcomb on the edge of the minipark, at the lane. The tree is quite compact and the leaves are all orangey. In the third photo, of the four rangy trees in the photo, from left to right, trees 2 and 4 are Whitcomb (the other two are Autumnalis Rosea); these leaves have mostly not turned yet and seem to be going more yellow than orange. I think the first tree bloomed a week or two earlier or later than the others (I can't remember which). The blossoms all looked the same to me, and it would seem very likely that all the trees in the minipark were planted at the same time, though I suppose the first one could be a replacement. I wasn't paying attention to these trees until I started as a cherry scout two years ago.

    Speaking of not paying attention, I didn't even notice the maple in the background when I was there.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    There are photos posted now in the new Victoria, BC Neighbourhood Blog.
     
  20. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Ron quoted Jacobson as describing Whitcombs as having flowers "single (or a few semi-double)". These trees on Nanaimo St at Cambridge are just starting to bloom on March 21, but I did end up with a photo of some semi-double blossoms, the first ones I've seen on Whitcombs.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Shari Edelson

    Shari Edelson Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted to this thread, as you've all helped me to identify the "mystery cherry" in my backyard as Prunus xsubhirtella 'Whitcomb.' In Baltimore, MD, USA, this tree is in peak bloom around the third week of March. The photo I've attached is from today, March 20, 2010.
     

    Attached Files:

  22. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    This is the prettiest 'Whitcomb' I ever did see. It's on a private property in Ferndale, WA, on Axton Rd not far east of the freeway.

    Actually, it's so much nicer than any other I've seen, it makes me wonder if it isn't some other cultivar. But it seems to not be grafted.
     

    Attached Files:

  23. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I was going to complain about the double blossom on this 'Whitcomb' at the Nicola mini-park, but I see it's not the first time I've seen such a thing (see the March 22, 2009 posting). This is a better example.
     

    Attached Files:

  24. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    7,296
    Likes Received:
    423
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    There's so much written in this thread that it's hard to find a description. Here is the page on 'Whitcomb' from Ornamental Cherries of Vancouver, by UBCBG's Douglas Justice. (Too bad the trees in the habit photo are gone now - they were a festival favourite one year).
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page