Prunus mume, commonly known as ume (”~:‚¤‚ß?) or Japanese
apricot, or Chinese plum is a species of Asian plum in the family Rosaceae. The
flower, long a beloved subject in the traditional painting of East Asia and Vietnam,
is usually translated as plum blossom.
The tree originates from China, and was brought
to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan later. The tree is cultivated for its fruit and
flowers. Although generally referred to as a plum in the English language, it
is actually more closely related to the apricot.
The tree flowers in late winter, typically late
January or February in East Asia, before the leaves appear. Each flower has
five petals and is 1?3 cm in diameter. The flowers have coloring ranging from
white to rose to deep red. The leaves appear shortly after the petals fall.
The leaves are oval, with a pointed tip. The fruit ripens in early summer, typically
June in East Asia. The ripening of the fruit coincides with the rainy season
of China and Japan, meiy? (”~‰J, literally "ume rains"), read baiu or
tsuyu in Japanese. Each fruit is round with a groove running from the stalk
to the tip. The skin is green when unripe, and turns yellow, sometimes with
a red blush, as it ripens. The flesh becomes yellow.
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