Wintersweet (腊梅 or 蜡梅 'Lamei') is a traditional Chinese flower that blossoms in winter, gathering crowds of viewers. 'La' (蜡) means wax, and 'mei' (梅) means plum. As it has a similar yellow color as waxes and it looks like plums, Chinese called it 'Lamei'. Some places also use another character for 'La' (腊) which means the twelfth lunar month as the flower is usually in full bloom at this time of year.
Wintersweet blossoms are considered as the guest of chilly winter because they start to appear at the coldest time with the arrival of snow in late December or early January. The flowers striving under the snow are often compared to the indomitable spirit and nobility of human.
People often confuse the wintersweet and the plum since they have a similar name in Chinese and are both known for their blossoms. However, most of the wintersweet flowers are yellow, while plum blossom colors range from pink and white to purple and red. Also, the wintersweet blooms two months earlier than the plum.
The flowering period of wintersweet is roughly from January to March. During this time, there are many places in China where you can view the beauty of the flower, smell the pleasant fragrance, and appreciate the human values it reflects. In Beijing, some of the places to observe the wintersweet blossoms are the Lamei Valley in the Fragrant Hills, Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Beijing Botanical Garden, and the Lenong Xuan at the Longevity Hill of the Summer Palace. If you are in Shanghai, Century Park would be the right place to go. Also, other provinces such as Sichuan, Zhejiang, and Hubei are great destinations for spotting tender wintersweet blossoms.