04/10/2013 07:56 EDT | Updated 06/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Rare, declining cherry blossoms grown in BCIT lab

Cherry blossoms are blooming across Vancouver, but a BCIT instructor has launched a program to help bring back some rarer species from the brink of extinction.

Keith Turner, who teaches biotechnology at the institute, said the number of Japanese Flowering cherry trees in the city is declining.

"There's plenty of varieties of cherry trees, we're not going to lose our cherry trees any time soon,” he said.

“But these are specific trees that over the years, they've just started to disappear and we wanted to save them more from a heritage standpoint than almost anything else."

Turner and his students have been taking cuttings and growing new trees in test tubes, which will eventually be planted in gardens across Vancouver.

Turner said it takes six years for the new Japanese Flowering cherry trees to start blooming.

There are nearly 40,000 cherry trees across Vancouver — many of them originated as gifts from Japan.