If you happen to travel to Guangdong Province in southern China in February or March, chances are you'll come across blooming cotton tree flowers.
Both the flower and the leaves form in late autumn and stay hidden in the branch buds until the weather is warm enough in spring to make an appearance. But the flame-like flowers can appear earlier, given the leaves' need for higher temperatures to sprout.
People in Guangdong have gradually learned to take full use of the tree. They use the flowers to make tea and the seeds to produce cooking oil. Back in olden times, the flying batting of the tree was collected to make cotton quilt or thick clothes as cotton was rarely made in southern China.
In 1982, when over 700,000 citizens participated in the selection to be Guangzhou's flower ambassador, the cotton tree flower gained 75 percent of the votes and was granted the honor. Having long been called hero tree, people in the city believe the plant couldn’t be a better representation of an unyielding spirit with which their forefathers fought fearlessly against any aggression throughout history.
China's Flora Tour
From the wetlands along the coast to the dense rainforests hidden in the southwest of China, all boast an array of plant species. In this series, we will go on a tour to learn about some of the most representative flora in different provinces and see how they live in harmony with the local geography and climate.