>> Sunday, February 27, 2011
The Japanese plum or ume (sometimes referred to as a Japanese apricot) has played an important role in Japanese culture. The plum is associated with the start of spring, because plum blossoms are some of the first blossoms to open during the year. In the Tokyo area, they typically flower in February and March. The event is celebrated with plum festivals (ume matsuri) in public parks, shrines and temples across the country.
Like cherry trees, plum trees come in many varieties, many of which were cultivated by humans over the centuries. Most plum blossoms have five petals and range in color from white to dark pink.