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Easy Spring Recipes Using the Flower

Who doesn’t love cherry blossoms? Even ardent native plant advocates can’t help but admire their uncomplicated optimism. While native woodlands and gardens are still quietly waking, showing no more than the pale effervescence of spicebush and the silver buds of serviceberry, the white and pink froth of ornamental cherry season rolls across the land, a great and beautiful gift whose roots are East Asian. After the long months of winter, and after the suspended weeks that are technically spring but hardly effusive, the wonder of their imported arboreal eruption catches us all like a sudden exhalation. We’ve been holding our breath.

Stand beneath the trees and wonder at their petals. And perhaps nibble one or two: These weeks taste like bitter almond and marzipan, and they will not last.

Photography by Marie Viljoen.

Above: Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa) bloom very early, on the heels of winter.
Above: Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ follows a light, late fall bloom with showers of early spring flowers.

Above: P. x subhirtella ‘Rosy Cloud’ behind (possible) P. yedoensis ‘Akebono’ at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Above: A weeping P. pendula ‘Yae-beni-shidare’.
Above: P. x yedoensis at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Above: The ruffled blooms of ‘Kanzan’ cherries are the last to open in spring’s cherry blossom sequence.
Above: Spring eggs, with cherry blossoms and chickweed.

Chew a cherry blossom. The first impression is one of delicacy, followed quickly by bitterness. After a couple of seconds that is replaced by a strong transition to almond essence. It is fleeting. But pairing the blossoms with ingredients that do not overwhelm their distinctive flavor yields some surprising results.

Above: Edible flowers transform treats into celebrations.

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