How Do Cherry Trees Work?

Parts of a Cherry Tree

Trees need water, sunlight, air, and nutrients in the soil. From bottom to top, let’s look at six parts of a tree.

Pink petals along the base of a cherry tree

NPS Photo

Roots anchor the plant in place. They absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

People taking pictures of cherry blossoms and looking across the Tidal Basin towards the Washington Monument

NPS Photo, Victoria Stauffenberg

The trunk carries water and nutrients up from the roots to the rest of the plant. It also lifts the leaves up to the sunlight.

Close up of blooming cherry tree flowers on a branch

NPS Photo, Victoria Stauffenberg

The branches lift the leaves even higher to the sun. Most flowers and leaves grow from the branches.

Green leaves growing from cherry trees in summer

NPS Photo

Leaves grow from the branches and make food for the plant. They do this by absorbing sunlight and performing photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to make food from the sun's energy.

Sunlight streaming through cherry blossoms on a branch

NPS Photo

Flowers bloom in bright colors and with scents to attract wildlife. The flowers make seeds and fruits.

A red squirrel chewing through a spruce cone to reach the seeds

NPS Photo, Kera Heeschen

Seeds are how new plants grow! Packed into each seed is all the nutrients a new plant needs to sprout from the soil and begin growing. Where have you seen seeds recently? (Hint: think about lunch!)

Parts of a Flower

Parts of a flower: blue circles and numbers marking the parts of a pistil

NPS Photo

The pistil is made of

1 The stigma
2 The style

These parts connect to the ovary. The style carries pollen to the ovary. Seeds are made when pollen reaches the ovary.

Parts of a flower labeled: blue circles and numbers around the stamen

NPS Photo

The stamen is made of:

3 The anther
4 The filament

The stamen is the part of the flower that makes the pollen.

Bee with pollen stuck to its head in a yellow flower

NPS Photo

Pollination is how plants reproduce.

Pollen needs to make its way from the stamen of a flower to the pistil of another flower for seeds to grow. Plants need help to move their pollen!

Pollinators are animals who move pollen from flower to flower.

Insects are important pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and others play an important role in the lives of plants.

Pileated woodpecker at wooden feeder

NPS Photo

There are many animals that need green spaces to survive and thrive in Washington DC. and other cities.

Birds rely on green spaces along their journey. The cherry trees give them a place to stop and rest and feed in Washington DC. Some birds live here year-round.

The Tidal Basin and nearby parks are great places for urban bird watching.

Gray Delmarva fox squirrel standing up

NPS Jane Gambel

Other wildlife rely on cherry trees as well. These include squirrels, foxes, even the occasional coyote, and many more. For example, a bird of prey hunting for squirrels needs to rest and eat. Squirrels need places to hide from the bird of prey! This is just one of the many interactions you might witness while watching city trees.

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    Last updated: March 9, 2021