What Do Plums Symbolize? Discover the Meaning Behind This Fruit

Most of us love plums, right? We pop them in our mouths, cut them up in salads, bake them in pies, or sip their juice. The fruit’s luscious sweetness and tartness is just irresistible. But have you ever wondered what plums symbolize beyond their delicious flavors? As it turns out, plums have played important roles in cultures and traditions around the world for centuries. In this article, we’ll explore the various meanings behind plums and what they can teach us about life and spirituality.

In Chinese culture, plums are a powerful symbol of resilience and endurance. This fruit is often associated with the coming of spring since it blooms even in the harshest conditions. Han Mei, a famous Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty, wrote a poem called “On Plum Blossoms” in which she describes the plum tree as “a solitary beauty amidst the frost.” For the Chinese, the plum tree represents perseverance and a never-give-up attitude. Eating plums and drinking plum tea is believed to strengthen one’s immune system and help fight diseases.

In Christian symbolism, plums are associated with purity and innocence. The fruit’s color, which ranges from pale yellow to deep purple, represents the stages of spiritual growth. In medieval art, plums are often depicted in the hands of the Virgin Mary, symbolizing her purity and devotion to God. Plums are also mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the Song of Solomon, where the bridegroom compares his bride’s cheeks to the “halves of a pomegranate” and her neck to “a tower of ivory.” The Song of Solomon is a poetic celebration of human love and sexuality, and plums are among the fruits that symbolize romantic love and physical pleasure.

Plums in Chinese culture

Plums have been an important fruit in Chinese culture for centuries. They hold a special place in Chinese art, literature, and mythology. Here are some of the ways that plums are significant in Chinese culture:

  • Plum blossoms are one of the most beloved flowers in China, and are often depicted in art and poetry. They symbolize perseverance and hope, as they bloom in late winter and early spring, when most other flowers have yet to appear.
  • Plums represent longevity and good fortune, as they are believed to have anti-aging properties. People often give plum blossoms as a gift to wish someone a long and healthy life.
  • Plums are a popular fruit during the Chinese New Year, as they represent wealth and prosperity. Eating plums is thought to bring good luck in the coming year.

Plum trees have been cultivated in China for thousands of years, and there are many different varieties. Some of the most famous include the Mei, which produces small, round plums that are eaten fresh or used in cooking, and the Wu, which has large, oval-shaped plums that are often dried and used in Chinese medicine.

Plums have also played a role in Chinese mythology. According to legend, the goddess Chang’e lives on the moon with a jade rabbit. The rabbit is said to pound herbs and make elixirs using a mortar and pestle made of plum wood.

Plum SymbolismMeaning
Plum BlossomsPerseverance, hope, longevity
PlumsWealth, prosperity, good fortune
Plum TreesCultivation, medicine, diversity

As you can see, plums have a rich and fascinating history in Chinese culture. They are more than just a fruit or flower – they are a symbol of hope, longevity, and good luck.

Plums in Japanese Culture

Plums have a special place in Japanese culture, where they are admired for their beauty, fragrance, and symbolism. In Japanese art, literature, and folklore, the plum blossom is a popular subject, and the fruit itself is often associated with various concepts and ideas.

  • The plum blossom is one of the most beloved symbols of early spring, as it blooms in late February or early March, signaling the end of winter and the arrival of the new season.
  • As a result, plums are considered a symbol of resilience and perseverance, as they are able to bloom even in the harshest of conditions, such as late winter snowstorms.
  • In Japanese culture, plums are also associated with good fortune, as the fruit is believed to bring luck and abundance.

Moreover, plums hold a special place in Japanese cuisine, where they are used in a variety of dishes, such as umeboshi (pickled plums) and plum wine.

Throughout Japanese history, plums have also been associated with important figures and events. For example, the famous Japanese daimyo Oda Nobunaga was said to have a plum tree in his garden that was over 1000 years old. Similarly, the famous Japanese poet Matsuo Basho wrote numerous haikus about plum blossoms and included them in his famous travelogue, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

ResiliencePlums are able to bloom even in harsh conditions, representing resilience and perseverance.
Good FortunePlums are believed to bring luck and abundance.
SpringPlum blossoms bloom in early spring, symbolizing the arrival of the new season.

In conclusion, plums have a rich and intricate symbolism in Japanese culture, representing resilience, good fortune, and the arrival of spring. From art and literature to cuisine and history, these beautiful and fragrant fruits have been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries.

Plum Blossom Symbolism

The plum blossom is a symbol that is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and has been highly regarded as a symbol of virtue, resilience, and hope for centuries. It is a popular symbol that can be found in literature, art, and various cultural artifacts.

The significance of plum blossom symbolism lies in its association with the number three, the flower’s exquisite beauty, and its ability to blossom even in the harshest of environments.

The Number Three

  • The number three is considered an auspicious number in Chinese culture, and plum blossom symbolism is deeply intertwined with the number three.
  • The plum blossom has three main petals, which are said to represent three virtues – courage, hope, and resilience.
  • The three petals also symbolize the upward growth of an individual and the ability to overcome adversity and blossom despite hardships.

The Flower’s Beauty and Resilience

Plum blossoms are known for their striking beauty and delicate aroma, making them highly valued in art and literature. The flower’s beauty is often seen as a representation of inner beauty and elegance.

Furthermore, the plum blossom is known for its ability to bloom even in the harshest of environments, such as in the cold winter months. This resilience has made it a symbol of perseverance and hope.

Plum Blossom Symbolism in Art and Culture

Plum blossom symbolism can be found in various forms of Chinese art and culture. It is a common motif in traditional Chinese paintings and can be seen in poetry and literature such as “The Song of the Plum Blossom” by Ming Dynasty poet Zhu Xi.

3 PetalsCourage, Hope, Resilience
BeautyInner Beauty, Elegance
ResiliencePerseverance, Hope

Overall, plum blossom symbolism represents the virtues of inner strength, perseverance, and hope. Its association with the number three adds additional significance to its symbolism and has made it a beloved and highly-regarded symbol in Chinese culture.

The Color Symbolism of Plums

Plums come in a variety of colors, which can affect their symbolism and meaning. Here is a look at what the different colors of plums represent:

  • Red plums: Red plums are associated with passion, love, and luck. They are often given as gifts to express romantic feelings, and in Chinese culture, they are believed to bring good luck when eaten during the Lunar New Year.
  • Yellow plums: Yellow plums are associated with happiness, energy, and optimism. They are often seen as a symbol of the sun and are believed to bring brightness and warmth to one’s life.
  • Purple plums: Purple plums are associated with royalty, elegance, and sophistication. They are often used in high-end cuisine and are a sign of wealth and prestige.
  • Black plums: Black plums are associated with mystery, mysticism, and the subconscious. They are often used in spiritual practices and are believed to enhance one’s intuition and psychic abilities.

The Number Symbolism of Plums

In addition to their color symbolism, plums also have meaning in numerology. In many cultures, the number four is associated with stability, balance, and practicality. This is because it is a square number, representing the four directions and the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). It is also the number of seasons, the phases of the moon, and the primary cardinal points.

Number Symbolism of Plums
Number 4:Stability, balance, practicality

This makes plums a popular symbol for those who seek stability and structure in their lives. They are often associated with grounding energy and a sense of security, making them a popular choice for those who wish to stay grounded while pursuing their goals.


Plums are a versatile fruit that has deep symbolism that varies depending on their color and numerical value. Understanding the symbolism and meaning of plums can help individuals choose the right fruit for gift-giving, decorating, or personal expression.

Whether you choose to embrace the powerful energy of black plums or seek the happiness and optimism of yellow plums, there is a plum for everyone. So next time you bite into a juicy plum, take a moment to reflect on its deeper meaning and significance.

Plum as a symbol of fertility and abundance

Plums have been associated with fertility in various cultures across the world. This connection stems from the fruit’s abundance of seeds, which are viewed as a symbol of new life and growth. Plums are also believed to promote fertility, with some cultures using them as an aphrodisiac or incorporating them into fertility rituals.

  • In Chinese culture, plums are referred to as one of the “three blessed fruits” alongside peaches and persimmons. They are seen as a symbol of prosperity and fertility, with the fruit’s many seeds representing the potential for abundance and growth.
  • Similarly, in Japanese culture, plums are associated with fertility and are often depicted in artwork alongside other symbols of abundance and prosperity.
  • In Western culture, plums have also been viewed as a symbol of fertility and abundance. In medieval Europe, the fruit was often gifted to newlyweds as a sign of blessing and fertility, and is still incorporated into traditional wedding cakes to this day.

In addition to their significance as a symbol of fertility, plums are also associated with abundance and prosperity. The fruit’s rich flavor and juicy texture are a reminder of the bountiful harvest season, and many cultures view plums as a good luck charm for wealth and success.

A popular way to incorporate plums into daily life is through meditation or mindfulness practices involving the fruit. Some practitioners recommend holding a fresh plum or plum blossom while meditating on abundance and prosperity, visualizing the fruit’s many seeds as a source of abundance and growth.

Overall, plums are a powerful symbol of fertility and abundance, connecting us to the cycles of growth and renewal in the natural world and reminding us of the potential for abundance and prosperity in our own lives.

The Significance of Plums in Literature

Plums have been used as symbols in literature for centuries, representing a range of emotions and themes. From love and desire to death and rebirth, the plum has held a special significance in literature around the world. In this article, we’ll explore the different subtopics related to the symbolism of plums in literature.

The Number 6

In East Asian cultures, the number six is associated with plums. This is because plum blossom has five petals and is often accompanied by a small bud, which represents the number six. Additionally, the Chinese word for plum, “li,” sounds similar to the word for “flow” or “smooth,” making it a popular symbol for a smooth-sailing life.

The number six is also significant in Chinese mythology, as there were six planets known to ancient Chinese astronomers. These planets were associated with the six celestial stems, which formed the basis of the traditional Chinese calendar. As a result, the number six has come to represent harmony, balance, and order.

  • In Chinese literature, the number six is often used to represent balance and stability. This can be seen in the six strings of the guqin, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, which symbolize the harmony between nature and humanity.
  • The number six also appears in the Chinese Book of Changes, or I Ching, where it is associated with the hexagram Li, which means “the clinging, fire.” This hexagram represents brightness and warmth, and is often associated with the sun.
  • In Japanese literature, plums are frequently depicted alongside the number six, as it is believed that there are six layers in the plum blossom. This symbolizes the layers of personality that exist within each individual.
Plum BlossomHope, resilience, rebirth
Number 6Balance, harmony, order

Overall, the number six is a significant element in the symbolism of plums in literature. From the balance and harmony it represents to the layers of personality it embodies, the number six is a powerful symbol when paired with the plum.

The History of Plum Cultivation and Consumption

Plums are a fruit that has been cultivated and consumed by humans for thousands of years. The early cultivation of plums can be traced back to China, where it was believed to have originated. The first written reference to plum cultivation dates back to over 2,000 years ago in a book written during the Han dynasty. From there, the cultivation and consumption of plums quickly spread across Asia, Europe, and eventually to North America during the 16th century.

Throughout history, plums have been highly regarded and symbolized different things across cultures. In Chinese culture, plums are considered one of the “three friends of winter” along with pine and bamboo, representing perseverance, resilience, and inner strength. In European folklore, plums are associated with good fortune and prosperity. In Christian art, plums symbolize divine generosity.

  • Plum cultivation in Europe:
  • Plums were introduced to Europe through trade routes in the early Middle Ages. Initially, they were used mainly for medicinal purposes, but over time, their sweet taste was discovered, and they became a popular fruit.

  • Types of plums:
  • There are many types of plums, including Japanese plums, European plums, Damson plums, and Greengage plums, among others. Each type has its unique flavor, texture, and color.

  • Plum consumption:
  • Plums are consumed fresh or dried and are used in many culinary dishes, from jams and jellies to desserts and main courses. In addition, plums are used in traditional medicine in many cultures to treat various ailments.

Today, plums are still a popular fruit, enjoyed by millions of people across the globe. They are used in many different ways and have been an essential part of human history for thousands of years.

Common NameScientific Name
Japanese plumPrunus salicina
European plumPrunus domestica
Damson plumPrunus insititia
Greengage plumPrunus domestica italica

Plums have played an important role in human history and continue to be a popular fruit today. While the cultivation and consumption of plums have changed over time, their significance and symbolism remain an integral part of many cultures worldwide.

Plum as a Symbol of Renewal and Rebirth

The plum is a fruit with a rich cultural and symbolic history, with many cultures attributing different meanings to it. In Chinese symbolism, the plum is considered to represent renewal and rebirth, a concept which has roots in the fruit’s association with the number 8.

  • The number 8 holds significant cultural value in Chinese symbolism, as it is associated with good luck, fortune, and prosperity.
  • This symbolism is derived from the pronunciation of the number in Chinese, which sounds similar to the word meaning “prosperity” or “wealth”.
  • The plum, with its eight petals and eight seeds, is often seen as a representation of the number 8 and the good fortune it brings.

Furthermore, the plum blossom is often utilized in Chinese art and literature to represent perseverance and strength in adversity. This can be attributed to its ability to bloom in the winter, when most other plants are dormant, symbolizing the ability to overcome challenges and rise above difficult circumstances.

Overall, the plum’s association with the number 8 and its ability to bloom in harsh conditions reinforce its symbolism as a fruit of renewal and rebirth, offering hope and prosperity in times of adversity.

Symbolic Meaning of Plum in Different CulturesMeaning
ChineseRenewal, rebirth, prosperity, perseverance
JapaneseRespect, fertility, growth
Native AmericanCelebration, abundance, generosity

The plum’s symbolic meaning extends beyond Chinese culture, as it is also revered in Japan and by Native American communities as a symbol of growth, abundance, and celebration.

The link between plums and good luck

Plums are not just delicious fruits, they have a long history of being highly esteemed in many cultures around the world. Plums are symbols of abundance and prosperity, health and well-being, and good luck. Here’s a closer look at the connection between plums and good luck, including the significance of the number 9.

The significance of the number 9

In Chinese culture, the number 9 is considered the luckiest number of all. This belief dates back to the ancient Chinese classic of I Ching, where the number 9 is associated with the highest level of change or achievement. The number 9 is also the highest single-digit number, and is therefore symbolic of the ultimate or pinnacle of success.

When it comes to plums, the number 9 is significant in a few different ways:

  • In Japan, the annual Plum Blossom Festival is held on February 9th, in honor of the ume (Japanese plum) tree.
  • Chinese culture considers nine plums in a basket to be a very lucky image and a sign of abundant wealth.
  • Plum trees are also said to bear fruit in multiples of 9, which is seen as a sign of good luck and prosperity.
Plum BlossomsHope and rebirth
Plum FruitWealth and prosperity
Plum Blossom BranchBeauty and grace

Overall, the number 9 is held in high regard in many cultures around the world. And when it comes to plums, the number 9 is seen as a powerful symbol of good luck, prosperity, and abundance.

The use of plums in traditional medicine.

Plums are a fruit with a long history of use in traditional medicine. Many cultures throughout history, such as Chinese and Native American cultures, have used plums and plum extracts for a variety of medicinal purposes. Here are some notable examples:

  • Relief from constipation: One of the most well-known uses of plums in traditional medicine is for relief from constipation. Plums are high in fiber and contain a natural laxative known as sorbitol, which can help to promote regular bowel movements.
  • Antioxidant properties: Plums are also high in antioxidants, which are important for fighting inflammation and preventing cellular damage. Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Reducing inflammation: Plums and plum extracts have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which could make them useful in treating a variety of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

In addition to these uses, plums have also been used for a variety of other medicinal purposes. For example, some cultures have used plums to treat conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm these potential benefits and determine the optimal dosages and forms of plum extract that would be most effective.

The nutritional profile of plums.

Plums are not only delicious, but they are also packed with a variety of nutrients that are important for maintaining good health. Here are some of the key nutrients found in plums:

NutrientAmount per 1 medium plum (66g)
Vitamin C6% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K5% of the DV
Potassium3% of the DV
AntioxidantsAnthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin

As you can see, plums are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants that are important for good health. Including plums as part of a balanced diet can help to provide these essential nutrients and may offer some potential medicinal benefits as well.

What do plums symbolize – FAQs

1. What do plums symbolize in Chinese culture?

In Chinese culture, plums symbolize resilience and perseverance. They are associated with the winter season, when they flourish despite the cold weather, representing the idea of overcoming obstacles.

2. What do plums symbolize in Japanese culture?

In Japanese culture, plums are a symbol of beauty, purity, and grace. They are often featured in art and poetry, and are considered a precious and noble fruit.

3. What do plums symbolize in Christianity?

In Christianity, plums are sometimes associated with the fall of humanity, when Eve is said to have tempted Adam with a forbidden fruit, which is sometimes portrayed as a plum.

4. What do plums symbolize in literature?

In literature, plums are often used as a metaphor for sexual desire or temptation. This can be traced back to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and is reflected in works such as William Carlos Williams’ poem “This is just to say”.

5. What do plums symbolize in dream interpretation?

In dream interpretation, plums can signify fertility, prosperity, and abundance. They suggest that the dreamer is about to enjoy a bountiful harvest or receive an unexpected windfall.

6. What do plums symbolize in art?

In art, plums are often depicted as a still life subject, representing the natural beauty and simplicity of everyday objects. They can also be interpreted as symbols of nourishment, generosity, and the cycle of life.

7. What is the spiritual meaning of plums?

The spiritual meaning of plums varies across cultures and traditions. However, they are often associated with growth, transformation, and renewal. Plums can also represent the balance between the physical and spiritual realms, and the interconnectedness of all things.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading this article on what plums symbolize! Whether you’re interested in the cultural, religious, or literary significance of this fruit, it’s clear that plums hold a special place in our collective consciousness. From their resilience and grace to their fertility and generosity, plums offer a rich assortment of meanings to explore and appreciate. Be sure to visit us again for more fascinating insights into the symbolic power of the everyday objects that shape our world.