TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The township office of a mountainous tribal town in southern Taiwan will hold a funeral for a giant cherry tree that greatly contributed to local tourism.
The 60-year-old “king cherry” in Wutai Township, Pingtung County, had a large canopy, and when the tree bloomed during cherry blossom season every February and March, it looked like a giant umbrella of flowers, drawing tourists up the mountain to admire it, CNA reported.
Inspired by the tree, the township office planted many more cherry trees in the town, including along some trails. The office holds a cherry blossom festival during the Lunar New Year holiday, and the king cherry has always been the center of attention.
Three years ago, the tree had a smaller bloom, and the township called in experts to diagnose the problem. At that time, the experts prescribed pruning, but as the tree was located on private land and managed by private citizens, the township office did not intervene.
After this year’s bloom, when green foliage should have returned, there were only dried branches. Local residents informed the township office, which invited Liang Wen-jing (梁文進), an advisor at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology's Plant Medicine Teaching Hospital, to make a diagnosis.
Judging from the tree’s dried, blackened roots and branches, Liang said it must have been dead for quite a while. He attributed its death to a combination of manmade and natural factors.
The tree is surrounded by a concrete surface that had prevented rainwater from getting to the roots, Liang said, adding that rain had been scarce from autumn to spring in recent years. He pointed out that last year’s drought had also caused the level of the groundwater to drop.
The township office said it plans to hold a funeral for the tree, a Taiwan cherry tree, before next year’s cherry festival.
(Wutai Township Office photo)