FYI: It’s Also Plum Blossom Szn in San Francisco, As Well

The City by the Bay is also The City Brimming with Blossoms, too.

We’re still very much in the thick of winter. Across San Francisco, the familiar crackle of our steam-heated radiators expanding and contracting continues soundtracking our apartments. (Our breath condenses outdoors; that Lululemon jacket — the one that’s about as thick as two-ply toilet paper — is currently retired from something more insulating.) But because of San Francisco’s temperate micro-climates, glimpses of the impending springtime are popping up.

The magnolias at the Conservatory of Flowers? They’re magnificent. Cherry blossoms blooming in and around Japantown? Of course.

Oh! And let’s not forget: We’re also in Plum Blossom Szn, too.

It’s unclear when the first plum trees were planted in San Francisco, but what’s abundantly clear is that they’ve become one of the most common trees planted in the city. While some plums are native to North America, the purple leaf plum (Prunus cerasifera) — the species you’re most likely to encounter in the seven-by-seven — hail from a long, wide endemic range that encompasses southeastern Europe and much of southern Asia.


They’re also durable as fuck; the tree’s ability to endure a swath of climates is well known, as is their ability to thwart disease. Plum trees are also the proverbial rockstars of fruit-bearing flora. Specifically, the purple leaf plums don’t usually make it to their 40s… but they will have produced countless fruiting, seed-bearing bodies before dying.

In San Francisco, purple leaf plum trees were actually the most commonly planted tree in San Francisco circa the 1990s, according to Friends of the Urban Forest records. However, these plants are far less common now, in part due to both their shorter-than-average lifecycle and City tree removal, but they’re still popular. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of these trees still paint San Francisco a medium-deep purple in February.

But like most fruiting trees that produce gorgeous blossoms, their floral plumage is short and fleeting And there’s a good chance that Plum Blossom Szn will end within the next two weeks.

Where should you go to see these gorgeous flowers around San Francisco? Areas around Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury, and the Castro have among the highest concentration of purple leaf plums in the city.

Get out there and smell the flowers… literally! (Or depending on your olfactory sensitivities: Maybe use this knowledge as a reminder to take an antihistamine.) 

Feature Image: Courtesy of Twitter via [at]tito_swineflu, who has a *glorious* thread on SF plum blossom blooms.

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