Each year, Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring. But after a bout of extreme weather, blooms are being reported several months early.
The Japanese weather site Weathernews said it had received more than 350 reports of blossoms throughout the country. The flowers usually appear in March or April.
It’s not unusual for sakura to arrive ahead of schedule, however experts said it’s rare for the flowering to be so widespread.
“We get reports every year of cherry blossom blooming early, but those are confined to specific areas,” Toru Koyama, a senior official with the Flower Association of Japan, told Reuters. “This time we are hearing about it from all over the country.”
Koyama explained that the leaves of cherry blossom trees contain a chemical that suppresses the pink and white flowers from blooming. But two powerful typhoons this September—including devastating Typhoon Jebi—stripped the trees of their leaves or exposed them to salt water. Without the presence of the growth-inhibitors, the trees flowered early.
What’s more, temperature swings brought by the storms may have tricked the bulbs into thinking it was spring.
The early blooms should not spoil the 2019 hanami, or the traditional flower-viewing season. The number of flowers blooming early is still small, so viewers are unlikely to notice much difference, Koyama added.
Regardless of this year’s major storms, cherry blossoms in Japan are emerging increasingly early, and scientists say that climate change is likely the culprit.
Source: Eco Watch