Beauty blooms after 800 years

Lotus plants grown from 800-year-old seeds are the highlight of the annual lotus and water lily show underway at the Guyi Garden.

Li Huacheng

A lotus in blossom

Li Huacheng

Lotus plants are exhibited at the annual lotus and water lily show underway at the Guyi Garden.

Lotus plants grown from 800-year-old seeds are the highlight of the annual lotus and water lily show underway at the Guyi Garden.

Planted in two vats, the ancient species is on display at the big lawn of the garden together with more than 500 varieties of water lily and lotus.

Visitors will get close contact with the legendary plants during the month long exhibition.

The seeds were buried at almost the same time as Jiading county was officially established in 1218.

The “Millennium lotus seeds” were excavated from a Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) relic in Qixian County of Kaifeng City, a thousand miles away from Jiading in 2015.

Guyi Garden’s management immediately sent a team to the scene after the news came out to fetch some of the seeds.

It is estimated that the ancient seeds were formed around 1270 to 1285. They were very likely buried by silt in the Grand Canal flowing through Kaifeng at that time. Kaifeng was capital of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD).

Covering the ancient lotus seeds was a layer of crust, not only completely preventing moisture getting to them, but also forming an airtight seal which helped preserve the seeds to this day.

The seeds were buried in layers of peat in dry, cold and closed conditions so as to maintain their vitality across more than seven centuries.

Technicians broke the crust of the seeds to revitalize them and 26 of the 30 seeds grew new shoots.

Two or three have been raised in a water vat, and Guyi Garden has 12 vats with seeds planted for future studies.

Staff at the garden said there was no difference in how the seeds should be cared for ancient or modern.




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