Glancing through the magazine this weekend, I have realized that the plum blossom appreciation season is in full swing in many parts of East Asia. In Taiwan, China, Japan, and Korea, flower appreciation is one of the most important attractions for families and tourists. Plum blossom flowers typically from late December until late January during the coldest parts of winter. Its profuse fragrance also stands out in the winter.
I especially love the plum blossom not just because of its beauty, but what it symbolizes: nobility, strength, perseverance and longevity. Plum blossom, originated from southern China, is the national flower of Taiwan, symbolizing resilience and perseverance in the harsh winter, just as the defeated Chinese Nationalists escaped to Taiwan during 1949 to re-establish themselves. In China, the plum blossom is one of the “Four Gentlemen” of flowers, and one of the “Flowers of the Four Seasons.” The plum fruit can be made into juices, wines, preserved and pickled plums, and sauces. They have medicinal uses to treat dental diseases, gastric ulcers, and “to keep you regular”. Preserved plums are popular snacks in China, Taiwan and Korea. The lavish “plum blossom meal”, which now represents 5 dishes + 1 soup, is popular in Taiwan.
Many people including me cannot distinguish between plum blossoms and the popular cherry blossoms. Of course, the fruits are different. The plum blossom has a very short stalk, and has 5 oval-shaped petals, while the cherry blossom has a longer stalk and has 5 round-shaped petals. Cherry blossoms bloom later, typically in late March.
Can you tell this is a cherry blossom park, and not a plum blossom park?