Friday, October 5th, 2012...5:16 am

Prunus Mume aka Japanese Apricot

Winter in the Atlanta Botanical Garden – Prunus mume “Peggy Clarke” by UGArdener

An Asian friend told me about a tree that ThisGardenLady had never heard about in the US. And not only had I not heard of this tree in the US, but this friend told me that the tree blooms in the WINTER in my Hardiness Temperature area which is zone 6B. The tree is Prunus mume or the Japanese Apricot. I know that many of the trees with prunus in their names will grow in my temp. zone because prunus is a genus that includes plums, peaches and apricots, etc. and there are many prunus trees growing here. But the prunus trees and shrubs that I know bloom in the spring not the winter. Certainly, I thought, my friend must be mistaken about Prunus mume’s bloom time. (see here)

But she was correct. This small tree- no more than 25 ft tall- grows in Plant Hardiness Temp. Zones 6a through 9 (one nursery has some that will grow in Zone 10.). Prunus mume is said to bloom in the darkest days of winter when almost nothing else blooms but the hellebores/lenten or Christmas rose. Prunus mume has white to red, through all kinds of pink, single or double showy flowers. And to top it off the flowers are very fragrant. Plus it will bear fruits that are edible. This is where the Japanese get the fruit to make their umeboshi. A treat that I love to eat. If you want to try to make your own umeboshi, here is a website that tells you how.

Though this tree is sold in the United States, TheGardenLady wonders how many people know about this tree. It can be seen at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden though the largest collection of Prunus mume is found in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the North Carolina State University Arboretum, where some 50 varieties are grown. For directions on how to grow and care for your Prunus mume tree read the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s information.

It is not a tree that is commonly sold in most US nurseries; you will probably have to go to some of the better nurseries in your area to see if they sell them Of course they can be purchased online.

If you live in the colder plant hardiness zones, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have flowers blooming twelve months a year in your garden?


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1 Comment

  • My first Prunus Mume (mei hua) arrived today. I live in a colder climate (zone 5) and so will slowly introduce it to colder temperatures and protect it from freezing and wind damage. Initially I will plant it in a pot and keep it indoors in the coldest months of winter.
    I ordered my tree online, and it arrived in wonderful shape, with many buds and three small blooms. Looking forward to growing this beautiful tree.

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