Now that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in many parts of Japan, sakura enthusiasts are everywhere trying to enjoy the beautiful pink blossoms. Whether indulging in boisterous hanami picnics under a gorgeous sakura canopy, taking leisurely strolls through sakura-lined streets and park paths, enjoying sakura festivals along the banks of rivers or reveling in night-time sakura viewing parties, the ways to enjoy Japan's beloved cherry trees are as numerous as the petals fluttering in a gentle spring breeze.

Surrounded by so much beauty, the urge to capture it is understandably strong.

Judging by a recent Instagram trend, however, it seems that some women have taken this urge beyond merely snapping pictures to snapping off branches. The reason? To collect blossoms to use in hair wreaths or other hair decorations.

As pretty as that sounds, the simple act of snapping off a branch could have very serious consequences for the tree. Not only does it promote tree rot at the stump, but if left untreated, tree rot can potentially progress along the branch, then reach the trunk. To make matters worse, trees infected by rot are particularly prone to infestation by the red-necked longhorned beetle, an invasive species currently responsible for an epidemic threatening cherry trees throughout Japan. For this reason, gardeners and park caretakers always use a special pruning sealer when pruning cherry branches, in order to prevent rot spores from infecting exposed stumps. By comparison, plum trees require frequent pruning, without which the tree would be overcrowded with branches, preventing buds from flowering.

Earlier this week, Twitter user Gomachan (@gomafu_ks) was shocked when she visited her local park:

---"Just as the Japanese saying goes 'Idiots cut off sakura branches and don't cut off plum branches,' cutting sakura branches promotes tree rot at the stump. When I was visiting the park today, I saw two women breaking sakura branches to make flower crowns. I looked into it and it seems that it's popular on Instagram. It seems that Japan's sakura trees will soon be destroyed by Instagrammers and red-necked longhorn beetles."

To back up her claim, Gomachan followed up her original tweet with another one in which she included screen captures of Instagrammers caught breaking off sakura branches and making crowns:

While these decorations are undeniably photogenic, we sincerely hope that others will heed Gomachan's advice and resist the urge to follow this trend.

Perhaps the best way to show your love for sakura is to engage in behavior that ensures we can all continue to appreciate them in the future. And if you just can't live without some sakura on your head, you can try these cute sakura mochi hats!

By - Ben K.