Japanese Spring Flowers: Momo—More Than Sakura

Peach Blossoms, i.e. Momo []

From afar, I think this flower is the most difficult to properly identify. To be honest trying to identify sakura, ume, and momo can be a challenge. Your best bet is to get a closer look at the flower.

white momo tree and pink sakura tree
Peach blossoms foreground, sakura background

Fragrance

Yet again, we have another flower that doesn’t have much in the scent department.

Petals

Momo are so big and fluffy! The only flowers that can contend with these huge blossoms are yaezakura, but those flowers still have that distinct round sakura flower cluster. That being said, there is another type of momo called kiku momo (chrysanthemum peach) and its petals are notably thin, but it still has a full appearance.  

bright pink momo flowers at Osaka Castle Park
Bright pink is a very common color
kiku momo at Osaka Castle Park
Sometimes the petals can look very thin instead.

Coloring

Momo have a wide range of colors. This variety of colors is what often leads tourist and natives alike to mistake momo for sakura or ume. They have exactly the same color spectrum as ume, ranging from white to fuchsia and even crimson. What is unique about this flower is that they can have striped petals and more than one color of flower on the same branch.

Branches

The biggest difference I have found is that momo seem to bloom in small clusters directly on their branches, whereas ume do not often bloom in clusters, and sakura flowers typically form those rounded bunches.

Japanese momo tree foreground. and a sakura tree in the background
Can you tell which is which?

Blooming season

The start blooming as early as mid-March and are in full swing by April. This places them smack-dab in the middle of the ume and sakura’s blooming seasons.

Let’s review:

Ume have: a noticeable fragrance, round petals, colors ranging from white to crimson, gnarled looking branches, and a blooming season in early February-March.

Boke have: no fragrance, round petals, a distinct scarlet color, waxy leaves and sometimes thorns, and a very long lasting blooming season lasting from March until mid-April. 

Momo have: no fragrance, very large flowers, similar colors to ume but also sometimes striped flowers, and a blooming season in March-April.

 

Now that we have covered everything that isn’t a sakura, let’s talk about the sakura’s distinct characteristics to help clear up any confusion.

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