Azaleas’ allure; Wang Keju & Liu Kun; China Daily

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China – Hubei Shennongjia

The botanical wonderland in Shennongjia is about to explode with blooms

Marvelous masses of amazing azaleas make Shennongjia blossom during the ongoing season – in every sense.

The forest in Hubei province hosts over 4,000 species of plants – actually, it takes its name from a quasi-mythological botanist who’s said to have dwelled in the area while experimenting with pharmacology and eventually accidentally poisoned himself during his trials. Oh, and he’s often depicted as a human with horns.

The only well-preserved subtropical forest ecosystem in the world’s middle latitudes became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, making it China’s 50th.

Over 150 million azaleas cover about a third of the 3,250-square-kilometer wilderness. About 35 varieties of the flower color the landscape in reds, purples, yellows and whites.

Azaleas bloom for a relatively long time because of the area’s altitude.

Those in the lower elevations bloom from late March until early June.

The blossoms that flower at over 2,000 meters above sea level are encased in ice and snow during the May Day holiday, which falls on May 1.

Azaleas are considered a symbol of pure and unrequited love in Shennongjia.

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