Just as the first robin marks the beginning of spring in the United States, Japan’s cherry blossoms are iconic markers of the season. But this year, they’re early, and it’s freaky as heck. Is the world going crazy? Is it climate change? The real answer is that it might be a little bit of both.

Earlier this week, Japanese weather service Weather News received 354 reports of Yoshino cherry trees (Prunus × yedoensis) flowering all across Japan — a solid six months before they normally bloom. Trees were spotted blooming from Kyushu, in the southwestern part of Japan, all the way to the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, Japanese news outlet NHK reported. And while it might seem obvious to blame climate change, the reason for this premature inflorescence is not so simple.

Read More… Japan’s Famous Cherry Blossoms Are Going Rogue

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