The Japanese apricot tree is one of the first trees to flower in the park each spring. There are over 300 varieties of the tree, which bloom in white, pink, rose, and red with both single and double petals. The variety of our tree is known as the ‘Peggy Clarke,’ it features rose-pink double blossoms with red calyxes. It was introduced to the United States in 1941 by W. B. Clarke, who named it after his daughter Peggy.
It is native to China and Korea, but not Japan, where it has been cultivated over the past 1,500 years. The botanical name for the tree Prunus mume, is misleading since it is neither an apricot nor a plum. While edible for humans, the tree’s fruit is bitter, but makes excellent jams and preserves, and is also the main ingredient in plum liquor. The plum blossom is a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring in East Asian countries, where they can often be seen blooming amidst late-winter snowstorms.