In August 2008 I again had the priviledge of working on the international TV coverage of the Olympic Games. This time in Beijing, China.
As usual, I took some time out to see if I could find any citrus plant connections there.
There is a large municipal Botanic Garden in the north-west outskirts of Beijing, and this was my first point of call. An impressive, modern glasshouse yielded no citrus trees and Beijing is of-course too cold for any to survive outside. However, I thought that the garden's extensive arboretum would be likely to have some specimens of Poncirus trifoliata - known as the Japanese Bitter Orange, but actually originating from China and the Korean peninsular. I hunted around without success so I asked at the visitor centre. This caused considerable consternation, much discussion and several telephone calls. Eventually, the staff decided there was such a plant and I was lead on a 10 minute walk to see it. The plant on display proved to be the Common Rue, Ruta graveolens. A very distant citrus relative, but not the one I had hoped for!
Little advertised in the English language tourist pamphlets and guide books, there is a second large botanic garden in Beijing. This one is run by the Chinese Acadamy of Sciences and is situated about 1km south of the municipal garden. The entrance is down a slightly scruffy side-road, and marked only in Chinese script. However, the garden is well-kept with many labelled plants and trees, and just as enjoyable and rewarding as the better-known one. In fact, in 2004 there were plans announced to combine the two gardens into one, but there were no signs that this has commenced yet.
On the far side from the gardens West Gate entrance is an area displaying Chinese Medicinal plants. Here, I found seveal fruiting Poncirus plants in raised troughs. Nearby, on the northern edge of the Medical Garden was a double row of about twenty mature trees. Several had abundant fruits, very smooth and round, but not yet ripe at this time of year.
The CAS Botanic Garden also has an area of rather dilapadated greenhouses. Here I found a few potted citrus, mostly unlabelled, and three trees gowing inside. The only one fruiting was a Pummelo, Citrus grandis, labelled as var 'Shatinyn'.
The greenhouse of Beijing Botanic Garden
--with the Olympic mascots!
Beijing Botanic Garden
Institute of Botany, China Academy of Sciences
Because this garden is hard to locate for anyone who doesn't know Chinese, I have made another page with detailed information about it, Click here!
The Beijing Friendship Hotel
This hotel was my base for the month I stayed in Beijing. It is situated north-west of central Beijing, close to the 3rd Ring Road. Built in co-operation with the Soviet Union in the 1950's as a symbol of good sino-soviet relations, it consists of several low-rise buildings with attractive planted areas between. It is, in fact, somewhat of an oasis of tranquillity from Beijing's manic streets. It was only towards the end of my stay that I discovered a large, mature Poncirus trifoliata growing at the side of one of the hotels buildings. Strangely, it was the "Building 3" I was staying in, but the other side from the main entrance. See red triangle on map below.
page created 3rd September 2008