The University of Washington once again is asking people to enjoy the iconic campus cherry blossoms virtually this year to promote physical distancing and safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of virtual viewing options are available, including UW Video’s live webcam overlooking the Quad, a virtual tour with photos from campus that will be updated throughout the blooming season and tweets from @uwcherryblossom.
live webcam Virtual tour
UW News will not track full bloom timing this year due to the pandemic. Please avoid coming to campus to see the cherry blossoms and instead enjoy them virtually. Campus buildings along the Quad are closed to the public and restrooms are not available.
Identifying cherry blossoms
UW arborist Sara Shores recommends looking for cherry blossoms in your local parks and neighborhood streets. There are dozens of different varieties of blossoming cherry and plum trees in the Seattle area, with blooms visible from early February until May, for some species.
Bloom colors range from white to light rose to dark pink, and cherry trees — unlike plums — have distinct horizontal-line patterns on their bark called lenticels. These help the trees “exhale” or release carbon dioxide and water.
Plum trees, which often are mistaken for cherry trees, bloom earlier than most cherries and don’t have lenticels on their bark.
Many of the earliest-flowering pink trees each spring are plums, Shores said. She recommends checking the bark to verify. Plum flowers also tend to smell sweeter than cherry flowers.
Lenticels are visible on this cherry tree’s bark near Johnson Hall.Dana Brooks/University of Washington
Cherry blossoms near Mary Gates Hall from April 2020.Mark Stone/University of Washington
Cherry blossom buds in an early stage of bloom.Dana Brooks/University of Washington
Find cherry blossoms in your neighborhood
The Seattle Department of Transportation maintains this interactive map of trees across the city. To see cherry trees in your neighborhood, click on “Explore street trees” in the top navigation bar, then click on “trees by type” and look for trees with the “Prunus” genus (cherry and plum trees).
Virtually tour the blossoms on campus