Japanese and European plum tree varieties
Like a cherry tree, which we all recall from the cherry blossom festival in Washington, DC each spring, a plum tree comes in many varieties, many of which were cultivated by humans over the centuries.
Plums are deciduous stone fruit trees that flower and include two common varieties: Japanese plums and European plums. All variations of plums bloom in late winter to early spring and fruit normally ripens in May through September, contingent on variety and climate. Many, but not all, plums are self-unfruitful, and a tree needs cross-pollination to bloom and set fruit, so you need to plant two or more well-suited varieties. A plum tree normally begins to flower and bear fruit four to six years after establishing. Plums also need winter chill to bloom, pruning and the right climate to produce a good flower and fruit yield.
Originally from China
The Japanese plum tree (ume; sometimes referred to as Japanese apricot), first introduced from China, has had an significant role in Japanese culture for countless centuries. Its fame was ultimately exceeded by that of the cherry tree which also blooms each spring.
Plum associated with start of spring
The plum is linked 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.
Most plum tree spring flower blossoms have five petals and range in color from white to dark pink. Some varieties with more than five petals and weeping branches have also been nurtured. Unlike cherry blossoms, plum blossoms have a strong, sweet fragrance.
So check out your Japanese Plum trees and see if they, too, are in bloom!