WASHINGTON -- Nancy Reagan will present a cherry tree to Japanese Ambassador Yoshio Okawara Tuesday as a 'token of our appreciation' for the cherry trees sent to Washington in the early 1900s.
The 3 -foot tree was propagated at the National Arboretum from a Yoshino cherry tree planted at the Tidal Basin in 1912 by Mrs. William Howard Taft.
It was one of 3,000 ornamental cherry trees given to the United States by the people of Japan.
'By sharing these plants and their beauty with the people of the United States in the early 1900s, the Japanese people have helped establish the cherry blossom tradition which has become an annual spring rite for thousands of visitors to the nation's capital,' Mrs. Reagan said in a statement.
'We hope that this tree will flourish in Japan as a token of our appreciation.'
Some varieties of the ornamental cherry tree no longer exist on the banks of the Arakawa River in the Adachi ward of Tokyo where the trees sent to the United States in 1912 originated, the White House said. The gift of the tree is designed to return the favor, it added.
Japanese officials have been in Washington this winter, while the trees are dormant, to get other cuttings of cherry tree varieties that no longer grow in Japan. They plan to re-establish the trees along the river banks.
Like the Japanese, Americans have found it difficult to preserve the varieties. Of 12 different kinds in the original gift, only two are found among the many trees still growing around the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial and Potomac Park.
Government botanists have collected formerly lost varieties from other parts of the nation and planted them in a collection of more than 60 selections of the flowering cherry at the arboretum.