Blossom varieties to spot while out walking this spring

A path leading off through Cherry Blossoms at Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire

Batsford Arboretum has one of the largest collections of Flowering Japanese Cherry Blossoms in Britain. - Credit: Bradley Rogers/Batsford Arboretum

In Japan, there is a practice called Hanami; it’s a yearly celebration of enjoying the arrival of the cherry and plum blossoms. People take walks and observe the transient beauty of the flowers springing to life all around them.

But you don’t need to be in Japan to partake. Why not enjoy your daily exercise with a bit of added Zen by scoping out the delicate flowers that herald that spring is finally here.  

Remember to follow all government guidelines, such as staying local and practising social distancing, to minimise the spread of coronavirus. 


In 2019 blackthorn flowered 27 days earlier than the baseline year of 2001. Image: Tom Meaker/Getty

The blackthorn is one of the first trees to blossom, and acts as a reassuring sign for many that spring is just around the corner. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

These pretty little white flowers are early bloomers; you can spot them as early as February, but most often throughout March, before disappearing in April.  

Blackthorn generally grows in woodlands and hedgerows and can be identified because the snowy flowers have bloomed before the leaves.   


hawthorn in full bloom folklore abounds around this sturdy traditional hedge plant known for its med

Hawthorn in full bloom folklore abounds around this sturdy traditional hedge plant known for its medicinal properties. - Credit: MarkBrazier/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Almost identical to the blackthorn, but that’s because all blossom trees actually belong to the same group or genus, which is the prunus. 

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Look for its darker anthers (the parts where the pollen is made) and the presence of leaves when the blossom is in full bloom. This highly scented blossom starts to show in hedgerows from April.


Cherry Blossom at RHS Rosemoor in Devon

Pretty in pink, cherry blossom at RHS Rosemoor in Devon. - Credit: Fleur Phillips/iWitness

Hailing from East Asia, the stunning cherry blossom tree flowers from late March through to May, depending on how cold or mild the weather has been.

One of the best places to see cherry blossoms is at Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre in the Cotswolds or the RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon. 


Plum blossom

Delicate clusters of plum blossom. - Credit: Stossi Mammot/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Plum blossom also looks very similar to blackthorn but can be identified by looking at the sepals (the green buds where the petals came from). If they are folded back, it is a plum blossom and if they lay flat on the back of the petals, its a blackthorn. Look out for the pretty little flowers from the middle of March to the middle of May.

The blossom trail through the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire has a fantastic example of plum blossom. 

Crab Apple 

Dainty crab apple blossom

Dainty crab apple blossom - Credit: Archant

Quite similar to plum blossom, however, crab apple is easy to distinguish as its branches are gnarled, and the petals are thicker and can have a pinkish tinge to them. Spot these blossoming from March to April.   

Barrington Court in Somerset has 10 acres of orchards, and Brogdale Collections in Kent has more than 4,000 species of blossom.   

Magnolia x Soulangeana (Saucer Magnolia) 

Magnolia (Soulangeana hybrids) flowering tree - Latin name - Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia (Soulangeana hybrids) flowering tree - Latin name - Magnolia x soulangeana - Credit: Nahhan/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This hybrid tree isn’t a blossom, but its flowers are symbolic of spring for many.

Originating from France, this plant has become one of the most popular magnolias used in horticulture due to its easy cultivation and gorgeous pink flowers. The saucer magnolia has also become a prevalent garden plant in England, so it will be easy to spot and can be seen blooming from late March through to May.