Ume – Plum Blossom
Plum blossom in Japan is known as UME, it blooms in spring (mid-February to mid-March) and manages to take the Japanese out of the warmth of their homes and into parks and gardens to appreciate its delicacy and beauty.
The blooming of flowers heralds the end of winter and the arrival of spring, they are the first in the year to bloom in the country and have been adored by the Japanese for centuries as a symbol of the beginning of spring and the beginning of the festivities.
Plum Blossom Festivals (Ume Matsuri) take place in different parts of Japan, in public parks, private gardens, shrines and temples with food stalls.
As delicate as the cherry blossom, plum blossoms are also short-lived. Not all of them bear fruit and the shape of the petals also differs according to the type.
Plum trees belong to the Western apricot family and are one of the most prized trees in Japan. Second only to the famous cherry blossom (sakura), they always rank second.
During the Nara Period (710-794), flower appreciation (hanami) referred to plum blossoms, but nowadays it is associated with cherry blossoms (sakura).
Like cherry blossoms, plum blossoms come in many color varieties. Most plum blossoms have five round petals and the color varies from white, through various shades of pink to dark pink, almost red. Unlike cherry blossoms, plum blossoms have a strong, sweet fragrance.