Ume (梅) is a Japanese term that refers to both the Prunus mume tree and its edible fruit. Prunus mume is also known as Japanese apricot, Chinese plum, or flowering plum. It is a deciduous tree that produces fragrant white or pink flowers in late winter, before the leaves emerge. The flowers are highly valued in Japanese culture and symbolize hope, purity, and perseverance. The fruits are green and sour when unripe, but turn yellow and sweet when ripe. They are often pickled in salt, vinegar, or alcohol to make umeboshi (梅干し), umezu (梅酢), or umeshu (梅酒), respectively. These products have various culinary and medicinal uses in Japan.
Prunus mume is also a popular species for bonsai, as it has an attractive shape, bark, and foliage, as well as the ability to flower in winter. Prunus mume bonsai require a sunny location, regular watering, and frequent fertilization after flowering. They should be pruned in spring to encourage branching and bud formation, and repotted every two to three years. Prunus mume bonsai are hardy to USDA zone 6 and can withstand cold temperatures if protected from frost and wind.