Prunus mume
Common name: 
Japanese Apricotc
Japanese Flowering Apricot
Japanese Flowering Plum
PRU-nus MU-may
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Deciduous, bushy, rounded tree to 15-30 ft (4.5-9 m), glabrous green branches.  Leaves alternate, simple, to 10 cm rounded or broadly ovate, broad wedge-shaped at base, margin sharply and often doubly serrate, petiole to 3 cm.  Flowers in 1-2s, to 3 cm wide, pale pink and fragrant, very short stalked, blooms in late winter.  Fruit is yellow to orange-red, about 3 cm, fuzzy-skinned, cling-stone, sour to bitter, poor fresh eating quality.
  • Sun or partial shade, well-drained soil.  Considered tougher and more trouble-free than other flowering fruit trees.  Popular for bonsai.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 6          Native to China and Japan.  Considered the most important tree in the gardens of China, strongly associated with Chinese culture and long cultivated there (see below).  In Japan, it is grown extensively and there are several hundred named cultivars; the fruit is picked green and pickled (Jacobson, 1996).  Not a common flowering tree in North America, but several cultivars are available.
  • The following is from The Garden Plants of China, by Peter Valder (1999, Timber Press).  "Along with bamboo, the plant most intimately associated with art, literature and everyday life in China is P. mume.... Its unfortunate, then, that it does not have a suitable name in Western languages.  When it appears in paintings or a decorative motif in pebble paving, on porcelain, or in other ways it is usually referred to as 'plum blossom' or 'flowering plum'.  Likewise the sauce made from its fruits, marketed all over the world for use in Chinese cookery, is known as 'plum sauce'.  This is misleading as it is not a plum but more closely allied to the apricot.   Although not originally Japanese, it is widely cultivated in Japan and was first made known to the West by the observations of European visitors to that country."
  • A large number of cultivars found in Japan, many few available in the West; hear are three:
    • 'Contorta'  -  small branches twisted and curled; flowers single, white
    • 'Peggy Clarke'  -  flowers double, deep rose, medium-sized, somewhat cupped
    • 'Trumpet'  -  flowers are single, pink
  • mume: a translation of the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese name.
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