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Prunus mume (mume)

One of China and Japan's most popular plants, mume blossoms have long been a favourite subject in traditional East Asian art and poetry.
Flowers of Prunus mume

Flowers of Prunus mume (Photo: Jie Cai, Kunming Institute of Botany)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Prunus mume Siebold

Common name: 

mume, ume, mei flower, Chinese plum, Japanese apricot.

Conservation status: 

Not threatened.

Habitat: 

Sparse forests, stream sides, on slopes along trails and in mountains, at altitudes of 1,700 to 3,100 m.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal, food.

Known hazards: 

See below.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Magnolianae
Order: 
Rosales
Family: 
Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus

About this species

Highly appreciated and admired for its early (January to March in central and southern China) blossoms, Prunus mume has enjoyed great popularity in China and Japan for centuries. It is popular as a bonsai and a 'must' in every Japanese-style garden. The world famous Kairaku-en garden in Japan, for example, boasts 3,000 specimens including 100 different cultivars, which create a feast for the eye during the 'plum blossom' season in late February/early March. Due to its long history of cultivation and cultural significance, there are more than 300 known cultivars in China, which differ mainly in the colour of their flowers (which can be white, pink, red, purple or light green).

Although sometimes called 'Chinese plum', the closest relative of this species is the wild apricot (Prunus armeniaca). A synonym of Prunus mume is Armeniaca mume.

Synonym: 

Armeniaca mume

Genus: 
Prunus

main info

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