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26/01/2020 - 15:53

“Cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees

With the color of the buds, sprouts, young leaves coinciding with that of flowers, and leaves turning turquoise as they grow old, “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees (the precious and rare apricot tree species could originate from Đại Nội-the Royal Palace) have been highly evaluated by the artisans and hot in the market nationwide for nearly one year.

Mr. Phan Van Quy next to a “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot tree in his garden

Forwards and backwards for the apricot tree

“6 years ago, he arrived in Dong Ha Town (Quang Tri) to adjust ornamental plants for clients. Among dozens of apricot trees waiting for branches to be bent, postures to be created, there appeared an apricot tree about 5 meters high, 45cm in diameter, bright yellow from flowers to leaves. Upon closer inspection, the apricot tree was found to have roots, flowers resembling but the buds, sprouts and young leaves were also yellow like petals,” Mr. Phan Van Quy, a famous ornamental apricot artisan in Van Duong Village (Thuy Van, Huong Thuy) began the story.

At that time, because so busy, I only noticed that, but I did not think much. However, after fulfilling the work and returning to Hue, the image of an apricot tree bright yellow from flowers to leaves began to appear in thought.

A few days later, I exchanged the story with a friend - a well-known apricot tree trader in Hue. He said it might be the “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot species originating from Đại Nội (the Royal Palace); for some reason, it has been taken outside and kept in Dong Ha until now.

Honestly, at that time I did not make much of the origin of this species of apricot and had no way to prove my friend’s words, but I just wanted a strange apricot tree among dozens of Therefore, after Tet (the Lunar New Year), I caught the bus to the apricot tree owner‘s house opposite Dong Ha Town Stadium.

Chatting, the owner of the apricot tree said it was true that this apricot tree had the name of “cành vàng, lá ngọc”, probably due to the characteristics from petals to the buds, shoots, young leaves of the same golden color, and the leaves turning turquoise as they grow old. However, the owner did not reveal the origin, only confirmed that the apricot tree originated from Hue, Quy recalled.

With great disappointment, Quy left after entreaty to buy, but the owner refused flatly. Hardly the bus had arrived in Hue when Quy, with the desire to have a strange apricot tree, immediately caught another bus back to Quang Tri in the same day, much to the apricot tree owner’s surprise.

After the conversation, the owner agreed to let Mr. Quy cut a branch to graft. After being grafted with a hoàng mai (royal apricot) tree with a secret, a year later, the “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot tree blossomed with more aroma. Its colors of buds, sprouts, leaves and flowers looked exactly like the parent tree in Dong Ha Town, but it still retained the style and essence of Hue yellow apricot trees.

"This apricot tree also produced as 5 petals as a hoàng mai (royal apricot) tree; it was fortunate to have an apricot tree with a few 6-petal flowers," Mr. Quy said.

The apricot tree flowering satisfied his passion. However, anyhow, the graft on the trunk of species of apricot tree was still the grafted apricot tree. Therefore, 3 years later, Quy returned to Quang Tri, went to the owner of the parent apricot tree and asked for the seeds to germinate.

Mr. Quy related that at that time he only dared to pick up a few dozen seeds. However, the owner of the apricot tree gathered all of them into a bag, estimated at nearly 1,000 seeds and told me to bring them all to germinate, but whether it grew or not depended on luck.

As an apricot tree fancier from the 4th grade and a graduate in agriculture and forestry from Dalat University, I was a bit hurt. At the thought of about 1,000 seeds, I was afraid of having no land to plant.

But everything did not go as thought. Through telephone conversation, the apricot owner said it was still lucky. He himself has never germinated any seedlings so far. Now, I remembered his words “whether it grew or not depended on luck” before, Mr. Quy said.

Aroma and beauty added

At the same time, after successfully grafting a few more trees, Mr. Quy decided to launch them for market exploration. And after selling one tree to the fancier in Hue for VND 6 million about 3 years ago (equal to the price of a hoàng mai tree of the same size, posture). To date, the price of one “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot tree has been double a hoàng mai (royal apricot) tree.

When a “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot tree blossoms, the color of buds, leaves and sprouts coincides with the yellow of the flower

“So far, I've sold 5 more “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees to the fanciers in Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang, Can Tho, the most expensive of which was VND 145 million. Apart from the unique color and aroma, its trunk is that of hoàng mai (royal apricot tree) itself, the precious apricot species of Hue. These two factors, together with the fact that this apricot species cannot be propagated in quantity, raise its value,” said Quy.

Currently, in addition to 2 three-year-old “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees growing from the seeds of parent trees, which Mr. Quy considers them treasures, his garden has 9 more “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees grafted on the trunks of hoàng mai (royal apricot) trees. Although “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees have been appreciated by the artisans and hot in the apricot market since March 2018, Mr. Quy does not massively propagate this type of apricot trees.

“No massive propagation of “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees is caused by the fact that they will die after only a few years if not properly grafted, not by the worry over a decrease in the price,” he said.

As an apricot fancier and a trader in “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees, Mr. Quy pointed out a few advantages of the species of apricot tree that he struggled to possess. However, deep in him, hoàng mai (royal apricot) trees still top the table. "Hoàng mai trees have many values ​​of culture, history, traditions of the land and people of Hue, so to me, there is no apricot species surpassing Hoàng mai," Mr. Quy affirmed.

In addition to hoàng mai trees, Hue has additional Quảng hương mộc mai (ohmantus fragans-scented apricot) trees and now “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees. According to the famous apricot artisans, there are two species of apricot trees with genetic mutation from Hoang Mai. However, anyway, the presence of “cành vàng, lá ngọc” apricot trees and Quảng hương mộc mai trees renders the scent and color of golden apricot trees in Hue more abundant and diverse.

Story and photos: Han Đang

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