Villagers plant orchids and ‘harvest gold’


Precious plant: A man showing the ‘tiepishihu’ flowers at a greenhouse in Bijie, Guizhou province. — China Daily/Asia News Network

Beijing: It is still early spring in southwestern China’s Guizhou province, but the forest in Zhegui village is already filled with vitality: oak trunks covered with orchid-like stalks, with branches swaying in the breeze.

“They’re the tiepishihu (dendrobium officinale), a valuable Chinese herbal medicine,” said Ruan Jian, deputy manager of Anlong Xicheng Xiushu Agriculture and Forestry.

“Zhegui village has sufficient forest coverage, with proper altitude and climatic conditions, which is very suitable for growing imitation wild dendrobium.”

The plant, a member of the orchid family, is known as an important traditional medicine in China since many of its biomedical benefits have been scientifically examined.

Wild dendrobium officinale became an endangered species in the 1980s.

However, with the breakthrough of tissue culture technology in the early 2000s, artificially cultivated plants entered the market.With the expansion in scale, dendrobium planted in some regions suffered from problems such as pesticide residue, elevated levels of heavy metals and poor quality.

“We grow high-quality dendrobium without sabotaging the ecological environment, allowing the villagers to make a living from the mountains,” said Ruan, who introduced the medicinal herb to the forest after a thorough investigation.Oaks in the village have rough, thick barks, rich in water and nutrients, making it easier for the dendrobium to attach to the trees and absorb more nutrients.

Since 2013, the company has planted dendrobium on the tree trunks of more than 267ha of oak forest.

Located in Anlong county, in Guizhou’s Qiannan Buyei and Miao autonomous prefecture, Zhegui is rich in forestry resources and has a climate that is neither too hot in summer nor too cold in winter. — China Daily/Asia News Network

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