Ohio University

OHIO to celebrate annual Japanese cherry tree blossoms

Published: March 18, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s iconic cherry trees draw attention each year, as their blooms symbolize the arrival of spring in Athens. National Geographic named OHIO one of the best places in the United States to see cherry blossoms – an exciting recognition paying homage to the historic partnership between Ohio University and Chubu University, which is located in Kasugai, Japan. 

The University celebrates this spring with over 200 cherry trees on OHIO’s Athens campus. The trees are planted strategically to ensure a balance of new growth so that each location continues to thrive each year. 

The story of these trees starts in 1979, with a formalized partnership agreement between OHIO and Chubu University. Chubu gifted 175 cherry trees to OHIO in honor of its 175th anniversary. This historic moment created a significant, long-standing tradition of celebrating the cherry blossoms along the Hocking River on OHIO's Athens campus. The blossoms serve as a yearly reminder of the 48-year global partnership with Chubu University. 

In the decades following the initial planting, harsh winters and storm damage harmed many of the trees. In honor of OHIO’s Bicentennial, Chubu University gave 94 Yoshino cherry trees and nine double weeping cherry trees in 2004 to replace the 97 plants that had suffered damage since the first planting. 

While the annual maintenance and care of these adored trees has required special attention, the OHIO Grounds team has established a successful schedule of care and maintenance, now planting between five to seven new trees each year, according to Susan Calhoun, landscape coordinator.

OHIO uses timer-LED lights, powered by an environmentally friendly electric panel, to illuminate the area around the cherry trees along the Hocking River in front of the Convocation Center each evening from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. as the trees bloom, which is anticipated this year during late March or early April. 

Age of the tree and location impact the timing of the blooms, though Grounds has noted the first blooms tend to appear on trees behind and east of Peden Stadium, followed by younger trees along Shafer Road, then larger trees across from Wren Stadium. 

A few blooms have already begun to open, and regular updates are available on the Cherry Blossoms website and Office of Global Affairs’ social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook). Those who visit the cherry trees in person can use #OHIOcherryblossoms for a chance to be featured on the website and social media.

OHIO encourages everyone to enjoy the cherry trees safely by following COVID-19 safety recommendations, including physical distancing of at least 6 feet, wearing masks, and gathering only with members of your own household. Taking these precautions will ensure the safety of the whole community. This CDC resource, shared by Dr. Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, provides current information about how to safely engage in outdoor activities. 

The beautiful trees can also be viewed on the university’s website where a new picture of the blooms will be uploaded each day, so Bobcats near and far can experience the blooms, regardless of where they are in the world. For additional information on the cherry trees and the blossoms, please visit www.ohio.edu/cherry-blossoms.