The pink and white flowers of cherry and plum trees are a tell-tale sign that spring has arrived on the South Coast. The two may look similar, but they are actually two very different trees.

According to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, there are eight ways to tell if the blossoms you are admiring are from a cherry tree, or a plum tree.

1. The smell: True cherry blossoms only have a faint smell, with the exception of some rare, mid-season trees. Plum trees, on the other hand, have a strong, flowery smell. If you're following your nose, it's probably a plum tree.

2. The petals: The oval petals look similar on both trees, but the cherry blossoms have a small split at the end of each petal, while the plum blossoms don't.

3. The bark: Cherry blossoms have light grey bark with horizontal lines on it. These lines are called "lenticels." Plum trees have dark bark, with no lenticels.

4. The buds: Plum buds are round, and have one blossom each. Cherry buds are oval, and have several blossoms coming out of each bud.

5. The leaves: Check the colour of the leaves on the tree. Plum trees have purple or green leaves that appear to be rolled. Cherry trees have green or copper leaves that are folded. 

6. The grafts: Grafts are placed on the upper trunk of the cherry tree. On plum trees, they are placed on the branches, and stick straight up. 

7. The shape: Step back from the tree, and look at its shape. Plum trees have a round or oval shape, whereas cherry trees have more of an umbrella shape.

8. The colour: There are more than 54 varieties of cherry trees. The blossoms can be dark or light pink, white, or yellowish. Plum trees have either white or pink blossoms.