The ginkgo is all set to become the national tree of China.
According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Chinese Society of Forestry through mail and the Internet voting, 1.77 million of the 1.79 million people, nearly 99 per cent, chose the ginkgo, which is considered a "living fossil."
The nominees included davidia, also known as the "Dove Tree," eucommia and arborvitae, which are found around the world, and others, such as the gingko and metasequoia, Dawn Redwood, that are unique to China.
"We have submitted the results to the State Forestry Administration after a month-long public voting process," said Liu Hesheng, an official from the society responsible for the event. The final decision will be made after the National People's Congress reviews the result, he said.
More than 120 countries have their own national trees. In the past decade, debate in China has increased over a national tree, as some people say the nation should have an appropriate emblem to match its strength.
"As a nation with a long history, China should have its own national tree," said Ju Zhangwang, a native of Taixing in East China's Jiangsu Province.
Ju, deputy to the 10th National People's Congress China's top legislature, has been advocating the ginkgo as the national tree since 2003.
His reasons are simple: The ginkgo is unique to China, it looks splendid with its straight trunk and thick crown, and it also has medical and economic value.
Palaeobotanists say the ginkgo has an estimated age of 270 million years. The first reference to the ginkgo was found in an 18th century Chinese book on agriculture.
Advocates of the metasequoia praised its shade, beauty and lumber. "Personally, I like the metasequoia better for its outstanding beauty," said Chen Jian, who works for a company affiliated with the State Forestry Administration.
To Beijing resident Yan Bing, however, the choosing of a national tree is not a particularly significant issue.
"China is so vast in territory and the plants it boasts are so diverse," he said. "So it's hard to say any kind of tree can represent the merit of the whole Chinese nation."
Source: China Daily