The annual kickoff to Nebraska City's Arbor Day celebration Friday will feature progeny cherry trees from those Japan presented to the United States a century ago.
The tree seedlings will be distributed to students at the children's program at Arbor Lodge State Park on Friday.
Adam Howard, nursery operations manager at Arbor Day Farm, said he and Randy Fox, park superintendent, decided to present the trees to the community through the children's program this year.
They come to Nebraska City through a unique partnership with the famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., which celebrated last year the 100-year anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees.
In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the United States 3,000 cherry trees, which later prompted the festival.
The Japanese gift included 12 varieties of cherry trees, including the Yamazukura and Edonigan.
To mark the 100th anniversary last year, Japan gave the United States additional trees and 30,000 seeds from the progeny of the original Yamazukura trees given in 1912.
The festival organizers did not have the ability to "grow out" the seeds, so the National Arbor Day Foundation agreed to take on the project.
Howard said the seeds produced seedlings beginning last summer and most were distributed last fall.
Arbor Day Farm had about 1,000 seedlings left over inspiring the idea to give them away to children on Arbor Day.
Howard said the seedlings are of the Yamazukura variety. Although they do not produce a cherry, the tree is known for its spectacular foilage and beautiful spring blossoms.
The standard of Midwest cherry production is the Montmorency variety, a sturdy tree that produces a sour fruit.
Other producers include the balaton and north star.A cherry tree from the 100th anniversary of the Japanese cherry trees in Washington, D.C., will also be planted at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 26, at Morton House Assisted Living.