Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Is There a Difference?

Written by August Croft
Published: September 4, 2022
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When it comes to telling the difference between a plum blossom vs cherry blossom, what can you use to know which flower is which? Plum and cherry blossom viewing is extremely popular around the world, but do you know which tree you are looking at when you choose to participate in these activities? How can you know which bloom is a plum blossom and which one is a cherry blossom? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast plum blossoms with cherry blossoms so that you can fully understand the differences between them. We will address their cultural significance as well as what these beautiful blooms look like in case you plan on attending any cherry blossom or plum blossom viewing events in the coming years. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom
Plum blossoms are more rounded compared to the oval shaped cherry blossom.
Plum BlossomCherry Blossom
Plant ClassificationPrunus mumePrunus serrulata
DescriptionSingle, rounded buds sprout beautiful pink, red, or white blooms. These flowers have rounded petals and do not cluster, given their full and rounded appearance. Light fragrance is pleasant and mild, and the trees on which they grow typically have red leaves.Clustered, oval-shaped buds sprout delicate pink or white blooms. These flowers have petals with a distinctive notch at the ends of them and the blooms are often clustered together on a single branch. Rarely has a very noticeable fragrance, and the trees on which they grow typically have green leaves.
UsesRevered in many different cultures, primarily Chinese and Vietnamese. The blossoms and fruits are used to make a variety of beverages and foods, as well as some significant uses in Chinese medicine.Revered and renowned for their impermanence primarily in Japanese culture, but also holds significance around the world. The petals are often salted and pickled, used in alcohols, teas, and confectionary settings. The fruit is primarily inedible.
Origin and Growing PreferencesNative to China; prefers full sun and an area without too much windNative to China; very flexible in where they are planted, depending on the variety, but prefers fertile soil
Blooming Time of YearJanuary-early MarchMarch-May

Key Differences Between Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

While both of these trees originated in China, cherry blossoms hold significant cultural relevance in Japan, while plum blossoms are more relevant in China and Vietnam.

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There are a number of key differences between plum blossoms and cherry blossoms. For example, plum blossoms are more rounded compared to the oval shaped cherry blossom. While both of these trees originated in China, cherry blossoms hold significant cultural relevance in Japan, while plum blossoms are more relevant in China and Vietnam. Cherry blossom petals have a distinct notch at the end of each petal, while plum blossom petals are entirely round. 

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now. 

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Classification

Plum blossom trees and cherry blossom trees are very closely related to one another, belonging to the same plant family and genus. However, they are different varieties from one another, despite them both being ornamental trees. For example, plum blossom trees are typically classified as Prunus mume, while cherry blossom trees are typically classified as Prunus serrulata

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Description

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

If you smell either of these two flowers, plum blossoms typically have a stronger scent compared to the delicate cherry blossom.

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While it can be difficult to tell the difference between plum blossoms and cherry blossoms when they are in full bloom, there are a few key features to pay attention to. For example, plum blossoms are more rounded, both when they are buds and when they are in bloom, compared to the oval shaped cherry blossom. In addition, plum blossom leaves are red more often than not, while cherry blossom leaves are typically green. 

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a cherry blossom and a plum blossom is to look at the petals. Cherry blossom petals have a distinct notch or cut out of the end of each petal, while plum blossom petals remain uniformly round. If you smell either of these two flowers, plum blossoms typically have a stronger scent compared to the delicate cherry blossom. 

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Uses

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossom petals have a distinct notch or cut out of the end of each petal, while plum blossom petals remain uniformly round.

©iStock.com/kuppa_rock

Plum blossoms and cherry blossoms are prized around the world for their cultural significance and general beloved impermanence. The blooming seasons of both of these trees are very short, which makes them culturally relevant for a number of reasons. In the grand scheme of both of these trees, cherry blossoms are extremely significant in Japanese culture, while plum blossoms are more significant in Chinese and Vietnamese culture. 

In terms of their uses, both plum blossoms and cherry blossoms have some culinary significance. However, plum blossoms typically produce edible fruit, while ornamental cherry blossoms do not. This means that plum blossoms are utilized in culinary capacities more than cherry blossoms are, though both have their merits and uses in the kitchen, typically in beverages and sweets. 

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Origin and How to Grow

While it may surprise you to hear this, both plum blossoms and cherry blossoms originated in China. While they grow around the world nowadays, this is where these trees are both native from. You can grow plum blossom trees and cherry blossom trees in a variety of locations, typically in full sun and out of any major drafts. 

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom: Blooming Time of Year

Plum Blossom vs Cherry Blossom

Depending on the region and the weather, plum blossom trees bloom anywhere from January to early March, while cherry blossom trees bloom in late March to early May.

©iStock.com/TokioMarineLife

A final key difference between plum blossoms and cherry blossoms is the time of year in which they bloom. Given the cultural significance of these short-lived beauties, knowing when they bloom is key. For the most part, plum blossom trees bloom slightly sooner in the year compared to cherry blossom trees. 
Depending on the region and the weather, plum blossom trees bloom anywhere from January to early March, while cherry blossom trees bloom in late March to early May.

Some plum and cherry blossom varieties only have their blooms for a week or less. However, climate change has been altering the time in which both of these trees bloom, as their blooming dates have been moving up year after year.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/kuppa_rock


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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Sources
  1. Performance of models for the beginning of sweet cherry blossom under current and changed climate conditions, Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168192315007881
  2. A symbol becomes the culture: Reinventing Japanese cherry blossoms, Available here: https://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=7861548&fileOId=7863420