Pink Flowering Apricot (Prunus mumé)

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The Pink Flowering Apricot (Prunus mumé) long grown in Australia as an attractive ornamental tree has a whole other range of under-utilised possibilities in this country for a variety of niche Japanese delicacies. Prunus mumé is from China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan and has been domesticated for over 3,000 years. It is also known as Japanese Flowering Apricot, Ume, and Mume.

It has the earliest blossoms (from mid July here on the farm) and continues flowering for some time. The smaller fragrant mid-pink cup-shaped blossoms tolerate some frosts. The leaves emerge after the blossoms have finished making it a handy winter floristry stem when in bloom. It is beautiful in a vase with jonquils and other winter blooms. Just as a long cold winter is wearing thin, this splash of cheery pink blossom brings reassurance that spring is not far away.

When grown as an ornamental, it may produce fruit with a clingstone that are often left by the birds and fall to the ground. They are typically not eaten fresh as they are unpalatable, although are used in jams and other preserves. They are grown commercially overseas and used extensively in Japan and other countries for a range of foods and beverages. These include umeboshi (Japanese pickled mume), umeshu (a Japanese mume liqueur, sometimes marketed as Japanese plum wine) and salty plum (dried and salted mume) amongst other uses. A 2007 RIRD report looked into the feasibility of a commercial market in Australia.

The fast growing deciduous tree has weeping green leaves in summer and orange yellow autumnal colour before falling.

• Uses: ornamental tree, shade tree, specimen tree, avenue tree, cut flower, preserved fruit, jam, Japanese pickled mume, Japanese mume liqueur or Japanese plum wine, salty plum
• Size: 4.5-6 metres high depending on conditions
• Flowering: blossoms from mid July for an extended period
• Harvest: spring, early summer
• Features: earliest scented pink blossom, fruit for preserves and alcohol with potential market in Australia, autumn foliage