US National Arboretum


Arboretum Plant Photo Gallery
Answer to the Front Page Picture of the Week Question
for Feb 12th - March 26th, 2008

Picture of Prunus mume.  Click here for a larger image.
These are the flowers and tree form of the Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume.

This is an ornamental tree with unusually beautiful bright "green" branches and loads of delicate almond-scented flowers. Native to China and Korea, where it has been cultivated for 1500 years, it has long been known in Japan as a highly valued ornamental. Prunus mume is a sturdy tree resistant to most insect pests and diseases and is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9. It can grow to 20 feet and is an ideal size for small gardens as well as larger landscapes. In late spring and summer, beautiful dark green foliage, dramatically colored, dark green stems and a rounded habit distinguish it from other Prunus species. The tree is of great "winter interest" as it flowers in late January or February, before the leaves appear, and produces beautiful, delicate flowers on bare branches over many weeks. The flowers can be single or double, white to red through pink, have a rich and spicy fragrance, and have been immortalized in Asian art and poetry. Flowering varies, depending on the severity of each winter's weather. The flower buds of Prunus mume have a staggered dormancy so that, should a cold spell kill all the open flowers and swollen buds, there will still be more unharmed dormant buds. The staggered dormancy ensures a long period of flowering. When and if fruit is set, it is ornamental - about an inch in diameter and yellow. The fruits are considered inedible in the West, but in Japan and other parts of the Orient, the fruit is eaten raw, used to scent tea, candied, boiled, made into a vinegar, preserved in sugar or often pickled in salt. Interestingly, an active compound that inhibits cancer cells has been isolated from the fruit of Prunus mume and characterized. The compound has the potential to be developed as a nutraceutical.  You can find this beautiful spring and winter interest flowering ornamental tree in Asian Collections and the Herb Garden.

[Click on the picture to see a larger image].
Be sure to go to the Picture of the Week Archive
or see the links below to view other plant images in our various Photo Galleries.

Go to:
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) Photo Gallery
Award Winning Daylilies Photo Gallery
U.S. National Arboretum Crapemyrtle Introductions Photo Gallery
Glenn Dale Azaleas Photo Gallery
Fall Foliage Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery Introduction

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Last Updated   May 7, 2008 2:49 PM

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