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NPS: DC cherry blossoms hit stage 5 'puffy white'

Up next, peak bloom!

WASHINGTON — The D.C. cherry blossoms are almost at peak bloom, hitting stage 5 on Saturday, March 18.

Puffy blossom (stage 5) is the last stage of the blooming process before the cherry trees reach peak bloom. Peak bloom occurs when 70% of the Yoshino Cherry blossoms are open.  

The National Park Service and several D.C. leaders predicted peak bloom would occur from March 22-25, earlier than the average historical peak date of April 4. 

Scientists are confident a warming climate is a main contributing factor to earlier spring sights, such as cherry blossoms. 

Mike Litterst from the National Park Service (NPS) says “We are certainly seeing a correlation between rise of average temperatures and earlier blossoming of the cherry blossoms."

EPA data shows peak bloom dates are about a week earlier than a century ago, and the peak bloom has actually happened before April 4 for 16 of the past 20 years.

The agency explains that other environmental factors, like sunlight and temperature throughout the prior year, impact peak bloom timing, too

Here are the six stages NPS tracks: 

  1. Green bud
  2. Florets visible
  3. Extension of florets
  4. Peduncle elongation
  5. Puffy blossom 
  6. Peak bloom


Many are concerned that cherry blossoms are blooming too early.

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