Gar­dens rush to im­port ‘Cathay’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHENG YINGQI in Bei­jing and LIU KUN in Wuhan

China’s botan­i­cal gar­dens and parks are rac­ing to im­port and ex­hibit the “Cathay” tulip from the Nether­lands, a new species named by first lady Peng Liyuan.

On Sun­day, Peng, dur­ing a state visit with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to the Nether­lands for the Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, poured cham­pagne to bless the tulip and named the plant Cathay, or in Chi­nese guo­tai, at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Dutch Queen Max­ima.

The name Cathay is an old name for China in the Nether­lands and it means “pros­per­ous coun­try” in Chi­nese.

Wuhan Botan­i­cal Gar­den un­der the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that the gar­den is plan­ning to im­port the tulip.

“We are con­tact­ing the Nether­lands via our sup­plier in Bei­jing. We will place an or­der im­me­di­ately if Cathay passes the im­port­ing pro­ce­dures,” said Chen Changli, a press of­fi­cer from the gar­den.

Chen said there are three fac­tors that may cause un­cer­tainty for the im­port of Cathay: the ex­port pol­icy of the Nether­lands on the new species, Cathay’s pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity in the Nether­lands and China’s im­port pol­icy.

“If ev­ery­thing goes smoothly, people in Wuhan will be able to see Cathay in our gar­den by mid-March 2015,” she said.

The gar­den had been hold­ing flower ex­hi­bi­tions since 1998. Some 110 tulip species have been im­ported from the Nether­lands.

Mean­while, sev­eral botan­i­cal gar­dens and flower-themed parks in Shang­hai and Bei­jing are com­mit­ted to im­port­ing and plant­ing the newly cul­ti­vated tulip.

“As long as the new va­ri­ety is avail­able for sale in the Nether­lands, we would con­sider buy­ing it and hav­ing it cul­ti­vated in our park,” said Wei Yu from the gar­den­ing depart­ment of the Bei­jing Botan­i­cal Gar­den, who was quoted in an ear­lier re­port.

Guo Xueyan, sales ex­ec­u­tive of the Bei­jing Bixi Flower Co, said she had re­ceived or­ders from across the coun­try.

“Ev­ery client wants Cathay. If pos­si­ble, we will try our best to im­port some bulbs to ex­hibit at the 2014 In­ter­na­tional Hor­ti­cul­tural Ex­po­si­tion in Qing­dao this fall,” Guo said.

How­ever, Guo said, the ex­act time and vol­ume de­pend on the owner of the Cathay species.

“Cathay is still an ex­per­i­men­tal species, which has not ex­panded prop­a­gat­ing. So, the quan­tity avail­able for sale still de­pends on the lab­o­ra­tory that de­vel­oped Cathay,” she said.

The Nether­lands has more than 2,000 tulip species avail­able for mass plant­ing, and more are be­ing re­searched and tested in lab­o­ra­to­ries. Cathay is one of the new species.

“It may take as long as 20 or 30 years for a tulip species to be mass planted from ini­tial re­search. So, it is still not for sure whether the lab­o­ra­tory will sell some bulbs to us or they will use all the bulbs on ex­pand­ing prop­a­ga­tion this year,” Guo said.

In the mean­time, Guo also ex­pected higher de­mand for species that have sim­i­lar fea­tures to Cathay.

“There are many species with sim­i­larly pur­ple color and quad­ran­gluar shape. We al­ready told the clients that there are sub­sti­tutes, if they do not in­sist on buy­ing Cathay,” she said. Con­tact the writ­ers at chengy­ingqi@chi­ cn and liukun@chi­nadaily. Xu Junqian in Shang­hai con­trib­uted to this story.

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