Plant Diversity ›› 2013, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (4): 487-492.DOI: 10.7677/ynzwyj201312154

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Botanical Verification of Divine Trees in “Legend of Mountains and Rivers”

 LIU  Ben-Xi-1、4, LI  Heng-2, LONG  Chun-Lin-2、3, FEI  Sheng-Ji-2, LI  Shang-Yu-2、4, LI  Xiao-MIng-4、5   

  1. 1 Yunnan Medicinal Institute of Yi Minority, Chuxiong 675000, China; 2 Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
    Kunming 650201, China; 3 College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China;
    4 ChinaKorea Biological Material Research Center, Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Kunming 650223, China;
    5 Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650011, China
  • Received:2012-11-22 Online:2013-07-25 Published:2013-03-10


There is a tale in the Chinese ancient book “Legend of Mountains and Rivers” where the sun rises from a “Fusang Tree” in the east, hangs above a “Jian Tree” at noon, and goes down at the “Ruo Tree” in the west. People have debated the reality of such Divine Trees for many centuries and arguments for and against their existence did not stop until Bronze Trees were discovered in Sanxingdui, Guanghan Prefecture, Sichuan Province. This archaeological discovery proved that Divine Trees referred to in folklore existed. Here we report verification of prototypes of the three Divine Trees referred to in “Legend of Mountains and Rivers”, based on botanical knowledge and reference to the ancient literature. We verified that the Fusang Treeg Tprototype may have been Betula platyphylla, the Jian Tree′s prototype was possibly Cunninghamia lanceolata, while the Ruo Tree′s prototype may have been Bombax ceiba.

Key words: Legend of Mountains and Rivers, Divine Tree, Betula platyphylla, Cunninghamia lanceolata, Bombax ceiba, Verification

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