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Ancient glory of Old Summer Palace blossoms with resurrected lotuses

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-09 07:30

One of the 11 lotus seeds unearthed from Ruyuan Park area in Yuanmingyuan in 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Unfortunately, only two of them finally blossomed last year. However, for the rebirth of ancient lotus varieties, this is a genesis.

In April, Zhao's team began to expand the cultivation by separating their lotus roots. And their "sons" now cover about 80 square meters of water in the breeding base of Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park.

The specific variety of these "antique" lotuses remains unknown as they differ from other lotuses grown in the park, Zhao says, but follow-up genome sequencing will unveil the connection with their relatives.

About 300 varieties of lotus now grow in Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park. Over 60 hectares of the waters in Yuanmingyuan are now covered by them, making the site the biggest collection of the flowers in Beijing.

Zhao says the lotuses will reach their full blossom in mid-August, and for the two ponds of flowers that have grown from the sleeping beauties, they look stronger this year.

"Probably, they'll have seedpods this year," Zhao says. "If we can get more seeds, maybe we can begin considering our next step to move them from the breeding base into the wild."

Following archaeological discoveries at the Yuanmingyuan site over recent years, many original areas have been restored to partially reflect the palace's former glory.

"Yuanmingyuan witnessed a country's pain," Li Bo, director of the administration of Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park, said in a previous interview with China Daily. "However, its rejuvenation also marks the people's progress. To partially restore historical areas based on academic studies is a good way to recall patriotism."

Perhaps, the rebirth of the lost lotuses is a crucial way to achieve that.

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