Gardens rush to import ‘Cathay’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. cn and liukun@chinadaily. com.cn Xu Junqian in Shanghai contributed to this story.