This character is a combination of 木 tree and 毎 every/each. One explanation is that here 毎 is simply a phonetic element expressing “big,” giving “big tree.” In this case, the meaning of “plum/plum tree” came about as a borrowing. Another explanation claims that 毎 is being used in its early sense of “fertile growth,” and that the plum was a favorite fruit of pregnant women and therefore associated with pregnancy and procreation/fertility. This would mean that 梅 literally means “tree of fertility,” or a “plum tree.”
In Osaka Castle, Japan, the garden of Prunus mume cultivars (Japanese apricot, Japanese plum) was flowering. These distinctively pruned small deciduous tree were producing a haze of white and pink flowers. These become highly-scented flowers as they warm in late winter and early spring sunshine and occasionally they are followed by edible but bitter, yellow fruits. Unfortunately I could not read the Japanese cultivar names but they were still beautiful and inspiring the local artists.
Osomatsu - 富士山と松 Mt. Fuji and pine tree
Karamatsu - 薔薇と牡丹 rose and peony
Choromatsu - 鯉 koi/Japanese carps
Ichimatsu - 猫 cat
Jyuushimatsu - 虎 tiger
Todomatsu - 鶯と梅 Uguisu/Japanese bush warblers and Japanese plum tree