Photos of Prunus mume, Mume, Japanese plum, Mei, Meigen (root), Meihua (flowerbud), wumei (smoke dried fruits), ume

Prunus mume, originating south of the Yangtze River in central China, was domesticated over 3,000 years ago. Along with Buddhism it arrived in Japan in the 7th century. Today in China there are over 3,000 varieties, some grown for the beautiful flowers, others for the edible fruit. The tree is a famous symbol of spring and lives to a very old age, with Asian specimens well over 1,000 years old at Buddhist temples. You’ve seen it in movies such as The Last Samuri (2003). Over 30 Chinese researchers contributed to a paper “The genome of Prunus mume” published in Nature Communications, 27 December 2012, which details the tree’s complete genome sequence. They discovered the genes responsible for the regulation of the tree’s early blooming, genes that enhance the tree’s resistance to microbes and those responsible for the biosynthesis of the flower scent. The keys of science have now unlocked Mume’s secrets.

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