Cherry blossom is now in full bloom in many areas of China.
It is also a major attraction in Japan, where it is known as sakura and has become a national icon. However, it is claimed that the cherry tree and its blossom originated in China.
He Zongru, chairman of the China Cherry Industry Association, an NGO committed to developing the country's cherry blossom-related business, said few Chinese know this.
According to the association, the cherry tree is believed to have originated in China's Himalayan region.
"China has a 2,000-year history of cherry blossoms in royal gardens. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), these delicate flowers prevailed thanks to private gardeners," He said.
"But what is a pity is that cherry blossom has brought enormous tourism income to countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, but in China the economy has yet to see the full benefit of it."
Last year, the cherry blossom season in Japan, from March to May, attracted nearly 5 million people and boosted the economy by about $2.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. China is the biggest source of tourists for the Japanese cherry blossom season.
Data from the Japan Tourism Agency show that 8.38 million tourists from the Chinese mainland traveled to Japan last year, representing year-on-year growth of 13.9 percent and contributing nearly 27 percent of international arrivals.
In recent years, cherry blossom's popularity has encouraged more Chinese to plant the trees at home. Local governments and industry advocates are promoting such planting in the hope of making blossom-filled parks a global attraction.
According to the association, more than 25 Chinese cities have parks where cherry trees predominate, and the number is expected to rise rapidly.
In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, streets lined with cherry trees are home to high-rise office buildings in the central business district.
In Beijing, the 136-hectare Yuyuantan Park boasts 2,000 cherry trees with more than 20 different species. A Cherry Blossoms Culture Festival is held in the park annually from March to May.
In Wuxi, Jiangsu province, people from all over the world visit the Tortoise Head Garden for its stunning array of cherry trees.
"Viewing cherry blossom has become a popular spring event across China, as the flower has unique aesthetic and cultural value," He said, adding that people from different countries enjoy viewing cherry blossom in various ways.
But he said the Chinese way is the most profitable.
"In Japan, the falling blossom is typically linked to fearlessness or life's fleeting moments, whereas the Chinese appear to regard it as the importance of kinship and romantic love," He said.
"This cultural difference means Chinese prefer to buy products related to cherry blossom, as the flowers provide a good choice for gifts," he added.
Wuhan University in Hubei province is arguably the best-known location in China to view cherry blossom. Tourists from across the country visit the university in spring to enjoy the trees in full bloom.
Streets and stores near the university target millions of visitors with products featuring food, handicrafts, musical instruments and artworks made from the blossom.