China's Flora Tour: A plant hunter took from Shangri-La
By Xing Fangyu
The yellow flowered evergreen shrub, hiding in the deep mountainous area of Shangri-La where the altitude is over 3,000 meters above sea level, was found by the famous English botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward.
After that, the yellow flower was no longer accessible to locals, but has instead been popular with gardeners worldwide. What's more, it gained its name ward azalea (Rhododendron wardii) from Frank Kingdon-Ward.
In the 1990s, a lot of Chinese plants were taken to the Western world by plant hunters. The demand for these exotic flowers as ornamental plants made this job very profitable, which encouraged some botanists to take expeditions to remote areas of China to collect them.
Plant hunters have made great changes in Western horticulture. For Frank, he collected about 200 specimens, and 22 of them were new to science. Rhododendrons, primulas and gentians were his favorite plants, and all of them could be found in Shangri-La, southwest China's Yunnan Province.
The video shows wild ward azalea growing in Shangri-La. Because the flowering period spans June to July, when CGTN Nature documentary crew filmed here in late June, they had to go to higher altitudes at over 4,000 meters above sea level, where the flower blooms later.
(Video provided by CGTN Nature documentary crew, top image designed by CGTN's Yin Yating)