Characteristics of Ume / Japanese Apricot Tree (Prunus mume) in the Wild

Prunus mume
Ume or Japanese Apricot sometimes also referred to as Japanese Plum, is a species of flowering plant native to East Asia classified in the genus Prunus.

The ume tree originally came from around the Yangtze River in southern China and was later introduced to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Now the trees can be found in forests, riverbanks, and mountain slopes at an altitude of 1,500-3,000 m above sea level.

In Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine, the fruit from the ume tree is used to make juices, flavorings, jams, and sauces. It is also used in the composition of traditional medicinal herbs.

Ume trees flower in late winter and early spring, which is considered a symbol of seasonality.

Ume flowers have long been a beloved subject in traditional Japanese painting and poetry (Haiku or Renga).

The varieties and cultivars of ume trees that are widely used as ornamental trees include:

  • Prunus mume var. typica
  • Prunus mume var. pendula
  • Prunus mume var. tortuosa
  • Prunus mume var. bungo
  • Prunus × Blireiana
  • Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ × Prunus mume ‘Alphandii’


Characteristics of Ume Leaf

Prunus mume Leaf
Source :

The leaves are oval with a pointed tip, 4-8 cm long and 3-5 cm wide. Ume leaves will grow after the flowers fall.


Characteristics of Ume Flower

Prunus mume Flower
Source :

The flowers are about 3 cm in diameter and have a strong fragrance. Ume flowers come in various colors such as white, pink, and red.


Characteristics of Ume Fruit

Prunus mume Fruit
Source :

Ume fruit ripens in early summer, around June-July, and coincides with the rainy season in East Asia. The fruit contains seeds 2-3 cm in size and appears at the end of the stalk.

Characteristics of Ume Trees

Prunus mume Tree
Source : Hathaway

Ume is classified as a medium-sized tree with a maximum height of 10 meters in the wild. The tree is also shed and begins to flower in mid-winter, usually around January to late February.

Ume trees are generally cultivated for their fruit and flowers. But not a few plant enthusiasts who cultivate ume trees as medium-sized ornamental trees that are suitable for gardens and even bonsai subjects.


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