Prunus mume (plum blossom) is a species of plum tree that produces strikingly beautiful and fragrant flowers right at the end of the winter season. For this reason, they have deep roots worldwide, but especially in eastern Asia, as a symbol of hope and resilience. This guide will cover everything you need to know about Plum Blossom meaning and their cultural significance today.
- The Symbolic Meaning of Plum Blossom – The Essentials
- About Plum Blossom (Prunus mume)
- The Meaning and Symbolism of Plum Blossom
- Common Plum Blossom Flower Colors and Their Meaning and Symbolism
- The Flower of January
- Plum Blossom in Feng Shui
- Plum Blossom (Ume) in Hanakotoba
- Plum Blossom in the Victorian Language of Flowers (Floriography)
- The National Flower of the Republic of China
- Plum Blossom Festivals
- Plum Blossoms in Art and Literature
- Suitable Gifting Occasions for Plum Blossom
- Plum Blossom FAQs
- Plum Blossom Meaning – The Final Word
The Symbolic Meaning of Plum Blossom – The Essentials
Associated with the end of winter, Prunus mume symbolizes hope, resilience, perseverance, courage, and beauty’s ability to survive through adversity. Additionally, plum blossom symbolizes prosperity, fruitfulness, beauty, purity, and good luck. In hanakotoba, plum blossom means elegance or loyalty.
About Plum Blossom (Prunus mume)
Family, Genus, and Taxonomy
Along with several other fruit trees, Prunus mume is a species that belongs to the Prunus sect. Armeniaca section of the Prunus subg. Prunus subgenus of the Prunus genus under the Rosaceae (rose) plant family.
Prunus mume is a deciduous, flowering, fruit-bearing tree that grows to be between 13 and 33 feet tall. From rounded buds, the trees produce copious five-petaled flowers along their branches, with single blossoms appearing on each individual stem.
Not long after the flowers are spent, and the petals fall, pointed and ovate leaves appear along the branches. The trees then produce plums during the summer.
What Regions Are Plum Blossoms Native?
Records of the plum blossom date back several thousand years. They’re believed to have originated near the Yangtze River in southern China before later being introduced to Japan, Vietnam, and Korea, where they now grow naturally.
History and Origins of Plum Blossom
Prunus mume has been cultivated for millennia in Asia. It was first introduced to the western world through Asian imports to Britain during the 19th century.
Popular Types of Plum Blossom
Since plum blossom has been cultivated for so long, it seems as if there are countless varieties, hybrids, and cultivars. In fact, there are more than 300 cultivars recorded in China alone. Some of the most popular include:
- Prunus mume var. typica
- Prunus mume var. pendula
- Prunus mume var. tortuosa
- Prunus mume var. bungo
Each of these cultivars blossoms in a variety of its own colors and flower forms.
The plum blossom’s scientific name combines the Latin word for plum tree (prunus) with the obsolete Japanese word for plum (mume). In other languages, Prunus mume has different names:
- Chinese – mei
- Japanese – ume
- Korean – Maesil
- Vietnamese – mai
When Is Plum Blossom in Season?
Depending on the region where the tree is growing, Prunus mume typically blooms in January, late winter, or very early spring. It then produces fruit during June or July in the summer.
Uses and Benefits of Plum Blossom
Plum trees have an obvious benefit: their fruit. The blossoms, however, are just as useful and serve several purposes in the culinary world and in traditional herbal medicine.
Plum blossoms are used to make a variety of beverages, including juices, teas, and liquors. They’re also used to produce condiments, flower pancakes, and as colorful and edible garnishes.
Brewed as a tea, red plum blossom flower petals are said to have calming properties that can help to alleviate issues like anxiety, stress, and other problems associated with the nervous system.
The Meaning and Symbolism of Plum Blossom
Common Plum Blossom Flower Colors and Their Meaning and Symbolism
Plum blossoms represent good luck, prosperity, hope, courage, beauty, and purity in China. In Japanese traditions, they also symbolize hope in addition to renewal and vitality. In the west, they have similar symbolic meanings, including hope and perseverance, in addition to the ability of beauty to thrive through adversity.
Plum blossoms are most commonly found in shades of pink, red, and white, but they also bloom in yellow. When it comes to floral symbolism, different cultures associate different symbolic meanings with these colors.
For plum blossoms, the pink and red varieties are most important in celebrations of the Chinese New Year since red is associated with good luck.
The Flower of January
In the Traditional Chinese Calendar, plum blossom is the flower of January. Each of its five petals represents wealth, happiness, success, peace, and longevity.
Plum Blossom in Feng Shui
In feng shui, plum blossoms represent prosperity and fruitfulness since plum trees bear fruit. Their five petals also represent balanced energy because they symbolize the five elements of nature. Plum blossoms are also closely associated with winter since they typically bloom during winter in Asia. As a result, they are commonly incorporated into homes as auspicious symbols during the winter to draw in positive energy of hope, resilience, and prosperity.
Plum Blossom (Ume) in Hanakotoba
In hanakotoba, the Japanese language of flowers, plum blossoms are called “ume,” and they represent loyalty and elegance.
Plum Blossom in the Victorian Language of Flowers (Floriography)
While Prunus mume is not specifically referenced in the Victorian Language of Flowers, another variety of plum tree, Prunus americana (wild plum), is. In western floriography, wild plum represents independence.
The National Flower of the Republic of China
Plum blossom (méihuā) was named the official flower of the Republic of China in 1964.
Plum Blossom Festivals
The blooming of plum blossoms is an event – especially in Asia. When these trees are in bloom, they overtake landscapes, filling them with seas of white, pink, and red blossoms. As a result, many festivals, such as the Mito Plum Blossom Festival, are held in celebration of the plum blossoms and the coming end of winter that they represent.
Plum Blossoms in Art and Literature
Along with bamboo and pine, the plum blossoms is categorized as one of the “three friends of winter” in East Asian art. Perhaps the most famous Japanese poet of the Edo Period, Matsuo Bashō, incorporated plum blossoms into many of his famous haiku poems. One element of these poems is to incorporate a seasonal element, and plum blossoms signified winter and its end. Take, for example, the following haiku written by Bashō:
“With fragrant plum blossoms / the sun is peeking out / on this mountain trail.”
In addition to their appearance in poems and other literature, for centuries, they have also been a popular subject of visual art, especially paintings, of which there are countless examples.
Suitable Gifting Occasions for Plum Blossom
Plum blossoms have so many positive symbolic meanings that they make suitable gifts for just about any positive or celebratory occasion. They are a great way to wish a friend, loved one, or colleague success and prosperity in a new endeavor or to deliver a message of hope and courage. Additionally, they can be used to recognize someone’s resilience and ability to persevere through adversity – just as the plum blossom survives to bloom during the cold of winter.
Plum Blossom FAQs
What Do Plum Blossom Flowers Symbolize?
As some of the first flowers to bloom in late winter or early spring, plum blossoms are symbols of hope, perseverance, resilience, courage, and renewal around the world.
Is Plum Blossom Considered Lucky?
Plum blossoms, especially red and pink varieties, symbolize prosperity and good luck, making them lucky flowers.
Is Plum Blossom a Flower of Love?
No, plum blossoms and their symbolic meanings are not usually associated with love. Instead, they are considered a flower of hope and perseverance.
Does Plum Blossom Come Back Every Year?
The frequency with which plum trees bloom and bear fruit depends on the species. Some are perennial bearing. These species flower and produce fruit once every year. Others are biennial bearing which means they flower and produce fruit once every other year.
How Long Does Plum Blossom Last?
The blooming period of plum blossoms lasts for about a month.
Does Plum Blossom Flower More Than Once?
Plum trees bloom once per year between late winter and early spring.
Are Cherry Blossom and Plum Blossom the Same?
Cherry blossoms come from cherry trees, and plum blossoms come from plum trees. The blossoms differ in other ways, too. For example, plum blossom petals and buds are rounder in shape, while cherry blossom petals and buds are more ovate. Additionally, only one plum blossom flower on each stem, while cherry blossoms have several flowers per individual stem.
Plum Blossom Meaning – The Final Word
Plum blossoms are beautiful to behold and rich with a long history of symbolic meaning, tradition, and appreciation. Plus, once the blooms are spent, the trees bear deliciously sweet fruit that you can enjoy looking forward to every (or every other) year. What more reason do you need to plant a plum tree in your yard?
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.