Dubbed as “Stumpy” by the locals of Washington, D.C., this small cherry blossom tree located near the southeast portion of the Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial has gained a significant following after a photo of the tree went viral in 2020 on Reddit’s r/washingtondc subreddit.
The tree’s nickname is a nod to its seemingly worn-out appearance, but despite its challenges, it has continued to bloom with lush pink petals every year. Stumpy’s resilience is commendable, especially since the tides cause an overflow in the protective seawall in the southeast part of the Tidal Basin, weakening the trees and their roots.
According to Mike Litterst, the chief of communications for the National Park Service, “Too much water on a tree’s roots can be just as damaging as too little…Flooding can cause ‘leaf-scorch,’ a process in which the leaves of a tree turn brown and eventually die. An overflow in this part of the Tidal Basin means Stumpy has shorter longevity.” Despite this, Stumpy has continued to thrive, with its blossoming a testament to its resilience.
The National Park Service has expressed concerns about the tree’s longevity, but Stumpy’s fans have suggested replanting it elsewhere. However, Litterst explained that it is too late, and moving the tree would cause more harm than good. Stumpy is part of the 3,200 Japanese Cherry Trees donated to the United States in 1912, with Mrs.
Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, National Geographic’s first female writer and board member, being instrumental in their planting. Scidmore proposed the idea of planting cherry trees along the Potomac waterfront in 1885, and it took nearly 24 years before her vision became a reality.
Stumpy and its fellow cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C. began to blossom pink petals on March 7, 2023. The National Park Service predicted that the peak bloom of the blossoms would occur between March 22 and 25, with 70% of the Yoshino cherry trees along the Tidal Basin blooming.
PEAK BLOOM! PEAK BLOOM! PEAK BLOOM! PEAK BLOOM! PEAK BLOOM! PEAK BLOOM!— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) March 23, 2023
The blossoms are open & putting on a gorgeous show. We hope to see you soon.
Plan your visit: https://t.co/h04Gu0ksc1 #CherryBlossom #BloomWatch #WashingtonDC pic.twitter.com/qXo2QkCkHI
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the opening ceremony and the Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds, began earlier this month and will run through April 16. The organizers recommend taking public transportation due to the limited parking at the Tidal Basin.