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'Kapok king' at Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall exhibits its splendor with 80,000 buds every year
Update: 2024-03-18     Source: Yangcheng Evening News

Nestled within the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall stands a kapok tree known as the "kapok king". This venerable kapok tree, dating back to around 1669, towers at approximately 27 meters and boasts a storied existence of over 350 years. Standing near theYuewangtai, one of the Eight Ancient Scenic Spots of Yangcheng (Guangzhou) during the Qing Dynasty, it is the earliest witness to the history of the eight ancient kapok trees in the Qing Dynasty, and has been listed as an ancient tree in 1985.

As the years unfold, the "kapok king" remains resolutely upright. Each March, it blooms with an exuberant display of over 80,000 buds, painting the sky with a vibrant red hue. This spectacle attracts countless citizens and tourists alike, who come to admire and capture its beauty in all its glory.

Safeguarding the health of the "kapok king" through biological control

As the esteemed "elderly star" of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the preservation of the "kapok king" is paramount. Longhorn beetles, a notorious menace to kapok trees, have posed a persistent challenge. Therefore, in 2019, experts introduced an innovative biological control method to counter these pests, employing the principle of "using insects to control insects." This involved introducing Dastarcus helophoroides larvae, a natural predator of longhorn beetles, as a biological solution.

Reports indicate that during the initial stages of the longhorn beetle infestation each year, plant protection workers would release a designated number of Dastarcus helophoroides larvae onto the trunk of the "kapok king." These larvae effectively combat the longhorn beetles through external parasitism, eliminating the threat. Since the implementation of this technique, the "kapok king" has remained resilient, unscathed by similar pests.

Balancing the preservation of ancient trees and architectural heritage

Just a few meters away from the main trunk of the "kapok king" stands the east annex of a cultural heritage building. Over the years, the "kapok king" has flourished, with one of its eastern branches extending almost to the roof of the annex. To balance the growth of the tree with the preservation of the cultural heritage building, in 2019, the management of the memorial hall installed three large support columns for the risky parts of the "kapok king."

Besides, in 2021, the memorial hall introduced a set of fully automatic termite monitoring equipment, with 331 devices placed throughout the park, including four around the "kapok king," providing round-the-clock vigilance. Once a termite infestation is detected, it alerts the management through their mobile phones, solving the pest problem in its infancy. This innovative approach provides more long-term and reliable protection for both the ancient trees and the cultural heritage buildings.

Ancient tree in Alipay Ant Forest

InJune 2023, the Guangzhou Municipal Forestry and Landscaping Bureau and Alipay Ant Forest jointly announced the launch of the "Guangzhou Ancient and Famous Trees Protection Public Welfare Support Project" at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou. This innovative initiative harnesses the power of Alipay Ant Forest, enabling citizens to contribute to the preservation of Guangzhou's ancient and famous trees by leveraging the energy accumulated through their low-carbon lifestyles.

Immediately after being added to Alipay Ant Forest, the "kapok king" received online protection from one million people. Thanks to this collective care, the venerable tree remains vibrant and blossoms with 80,000 buds every year.

Blooming vigorously every spring is a promise made by the "kapok king" and a testament to the enduring charm of Guangzhou. In the nationwide selection event for "China's Most Beautiful Ancient Trees" organized in 2018, the "kapok king" was honored with the title of "China's Most Beautiful Kapok",emerging as a representative of kapok varieties nationwide. In 2022, the "kapok king" was exhibited as a representative of the cultural value of ancient trees in the "China Ancient and Valuable Tree Protection Photo Exhibition," alongside the Guest-Welcoming Pine of Huangshan Mountain.

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