The plum blossom, which is known as the meihua (梅花), is one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. The blossoms are so beloved by the Chinese because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly in the winter snow, exuding an ethereal elegance, while their fragrance is noticed to still subtly pervade the air at even the coldest times of the year. Therefore the plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, but also beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life. In Confucianism, the plum blossom stands for the principles and values of virtue. More recently, it has also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle since the turn of the 20th century. Chinese term ”傲雪寒梅” (literally “Plum stands proudly in the chill snow”) to describe a person who’s not afraid of failure or bad environment. Also “梅花香自苦寒来” ( Plum blossoms have fragrance because they have tasted the bitterness of cold winter).
Because it blossoms in the cold winter, the plum blossom is regarded as one of the “Three Friends of Winter” 岁寒三友, along with pine, and bamboo. It is also regarded as one of the “Four Gentlemen” 四君子 of flowers in Chinese art together with the orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo. It is one of the “Flowers of the Four Seasons” 四季花, which consist of the orchid (spring), the lotus (summer), the chrysanthemum (autumn) and the plum blossom (winter). These groupings are seen repeatedly in the Chinese aesthetic of art, painting, literature, and garden design.