Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis'
Common Name: higan cherry
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 35.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds

Culture

Best grown in moist, fertile, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering in full sun. Better tolerance for summer heat and winter cold than most of the flowering cherries.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus subhirtella, commonly called Higan cherry, is a medium sized deciduous tree growing to 40-50’ tall. It is a naturally occurring hybrid, which the Royal Horticultural Society lists as Prunus x subhirtella, from Japan that generally features non-fragrant pale pink to white flowers in spring, pea-sized blackish fruits in late summer and ovate to lanceolate green leaves (to 3” long). This hybrid is rarely sold in commerce, however. What is commonly sold in commerce under the name of Higan cherry are several cultivars that grow 20-30’ tall, the most common of which is ‘Autumnalis Rosea, which produces double pink flowers in spring with a sparse additional fall bloom. Several different selections are also commonly sold under the name of ‘Pendula’ or var. pendula, which is a weeping form that features single or double white to pink flowers in spring. Pendula forms are sometimes top grafted. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) no longer lists pendula forms under P. x subhirtella, however, but now lists them as P. pendula.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means somewhat hairy.

‘Autumnalis' (sometimes designated as var. autumnalis) is a popular cultivar that is commonly sold in commerce. It typically grows to 20-35' tall with a rounded, symmetrical crown. It is noted for producing a heavy bloom of semi-double pink flowers in spring with an additional but sparse bloom occurring in fall (hence the cultivar name). Leaves turn yellow in fall. Fruits are attractive to birds, but are not ornamentally significant.

Problems

Higan cherry is generally considered to have good disease resistance. Like all cherries, it is susceptible to a large number of insect and disease problems. Potential diseases include leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot and fireblight. Potential insects include aphids, scale, borers, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Spider mites may also be troublesome.

Garden Uses

Cultivars are generally small flowering trees. Specimen or group.