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Cherry blossom tree's Hawaiian journey continues with plantings in Wahiawā, Mānoa

O‘AHU -- The passage of a voyage unique can be more fulfilling than a journey complete. Years of international collaboration to establish thriving cherry blossom trees (Sakura ) in the Hawaiian Islands continues with 23 donated Sakura ceremoniously planted in two City parks this week.

Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation and Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts staff were joined by Honolulu City Councilmembers, the Hawai‘i Sakura Foundation, and representatives of Kōchi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden to plant the trees (gifted by the two latter organizations) in ‘Iliahi Neighborhood Park and Mānoa Valley District Park. Along with strengthening international ties, these plantings will further determine the best variety of the iconic tree suitable for Hawai‘i's tropical conditions.

"I think it is great that Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Gardens is participating in this auspicious event together with the Foster Botanical Gardens which will further strengthen relationships between Hawai‘i and Japan," said Arthur Taniguchi, Vice President of Hawai‘i Sakura Foundation. "The cherry blossom seedlings that were introduced to Hawai‘i for the Centennial Celebration of the first cherry blossom tree planting in Washington, D.C. came through the efforts and support of Dr. Tetsuo Koyama, who was the Director General of the Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Gardens at that time. Although I will not be able to participate in person, I look forward to continued cooperation and friendship between Kōchi and Hawai‘i."

Surrounding ‘Iliahi's softball field, within the cooler, higher altitude community of Wahiawā, a mix of Oshima Zakura and Kōchi Sakura were planted by City arborists with the Division of Urban Forestry. In Mānoa, five Oshima Zakura were installed near the Mānoa Stream.

Of the hundreds of varieties of cherry blossom trees, these particular Sakura were chosen because they originate in warmer areas of Japan. Oshima Zakura is found in the subtropical, volcanic Hachijō Island south of Tokyo Prefecture, while Kōchi Sakura thrives in the warm region of Kōchi Prefecture.

"We can never overstate the many benefits planting trees has on our island's future," said Honolulu Botanical Gardens Director, Joshlyn Sand. "Particularly as invasive pests threaten our environment, it is important to support biodiversity in our urban forests while also strengthening relationships with other arborists around the globe. Mahalo to the donors who provided these trees, our friends at Makino Botanical Garden for their assistance, and our Division of Urban Forestry for helping to keep our island green. Hopefully when these Sakura bloom, it'll enhance that greenery with the lovely shades of cherry blossom pink for all to enjoy."

This week's effort is a continuation of years of coordination between the respective botanical gardens, including in February 2020 when similar plantings occurred in Wahiawā and Mānoa. This initiative aims to diversify our island's floral landscape, showcase the beauty and fragrance of cherry blossoms, and celebrate our sister city relationships.

Following the Mānoa Valley District Park Sakura planting, a special event brought members of the two archipelagos to Foster Botanical Garden for the ceremonial planting of an ʻōhiʻa lehua tree, one of Hawaiʻi's most iconic endemic trees. In all, these symbolic environmental gestures highlight the collaborative efforts to enhance biodiversity in Honolulu, and support the unique cultures spanning Hawai‘i and Japan.

For more information about the cherry blossom journey in Hawai‘i, and the efforts of the Hawai‘i Sakura Foundation, please visit the foundation's website.

Viewed by many as one of the most iconic trees in Japan, the cherry blossom is revered for its abundant pink flowers which spring to life during its annual blooming.

According to the Hawai‘i Sakura Foundation, the first cherry blossom trees made their way to the United States in 1912 with numerous plantings at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Since then, the springtime blossoms have become a coveted attraction experienced firsthand by countless visitors from around the world. The foundation states that their efforts to bring cherry blossoms to Hawai‘i came to fruition in 2012. Since then, plantings have occurred in Wahiawā, Mānoa, and in Waimea on the Big Island.

Similarly iconic and culturally significant, ʻōhiʻa lehua is the most common native Hawaiian tree and is endemic to Hawai‘i's six largest islands. Used for a variety of activities by native Hawaiians, ‘ōhi‘a lehua blossoms continue to be used in cultural ceremonies and practices today, such as lei and hula, though many hula practitioners have begun forgoing the use of ōhi‘a lehua to prevent the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD). For more information on ROD and how you can help prevent its spread go to:

If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please contact the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email at least three business days before the scheduled event. Without sufficient advanced notice, it may not be possible to fulfill requests.

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