Are there any Tidal Basin cherry trees left from the original plantings over 100 years ago?

It’s a century-old tradition, but are we still looking at the same cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in D.C. over a century later?

Peak bloom at the Tidal Basin is just a few weeks away — a tradition the D.C. area has been enjoying for more than 100 years. The big question is: Are those the same trees?

Yoshino cherry trees only really last about 40 to 50 years, according to Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Park Service in D.C.

“Of course, you know, these trees are well cared for and well looked after,” he told WTOP. “We do have some that are, if not from 1912, are from probably the early part of the 20th century.”

Litterst said back in 1912, the planters didn’t actually map where first lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., placed the first trees so there is no way of knowing exactly.

Over the next decade, more shipments of trees arrived and were planted along the Tidal Basin and across the National Mall.

While you may never see the original trees, you will likely see their descendants scattered across the area.

“The National Arboretum has done cuttings of some of the original trees over the years. So when we have to replant, a lot of times we’re able to get a genetic match of some of those early trees,” said Litterst.

More Cherry Blossom Festival News

Peak bloom for the cherry blossoms is expected sometime between March 23 and 26, according to the National Park Service.

The Cherry Blossom Festival will start on March 20 and will run through April 26.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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