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Home HortScience Ultimate Thousand-petals Lotus Blossoms Again
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SHANGHAI CHENSHAN, CHINA—The newly introduced 'Zhizun Qianban', or the "Ultimate Thousand-Petals" lotus features not only beautiful, longer-lasting flowers, it also boasts a fascinating history. 'Zhizun Qianban', meaning "ultimate thousand-petals", was discovered and named in 2009 by Daike Tian at the South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Tian and colleague Ken Tilt from the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University introduced the striking lotus in HortScience.

In Chinese, 'Zhizun' (a synonym of king) means "the highest position", or "the most honorable", while 'Qianban' means "thousand-petals". According to Tian and Tilt, 'Zhizun Qianban' carries a royal pedigree and an interesting story. Legend goes that the lucky lotus survived the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China during 1966–1976. "During the revolution private gardens were not permitted and the Chinese people were not allowed to own plants," the authors explained. While most ornamental plants were destroyed during the upheaval, one lotus plant in a small garden miraculously survived because it was planted in a heavy stone "ponder", a large mortar-like utensil used for grinding food.

The legend continues that a rhizome shoot of the precious lotus was purchased in 1981 for the U.S. equivalent of only 30 cents. "The cultivar had not been documented and the true history, creator, original owner, and name of the lotus cultivar are still unknown," Tian and Tilt said. "Therefore, it was given the name of 'Zhizun Qianban' based on morphological traits."

The flower of 'Zhizun Qianban' opens slowly, taking 3 to 4 days from the start of opening to full opening. One flower may last for up to a week, much longer than the 4-day flowering duration typical of most lotus varieties. "With a longer flowering time, beautiful shape, and strong stalk, 'Zhizun Qianban' is an improved and excellent ornamental for decoration in either ponds or containers," the authors noted. They added that it also has potential as a cut flower.

'Zhizun Qianban' is currently being used in a research project on molecular mechanism of double flowers in Nelumbo (lotus) in Tian's laboratory at the Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center, Chinese Academy of Science, and Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden. A limited number of the stock plants can be obtained by contacting Tian via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

'Zhizun Qianban': A Recognition of an Obscure Lotus (Nelumbo) Cultivar with an Interesting Legend
Daike Tian and Ken Tilt
HortScience 46:1044–1045. [Abstract Unavailable][Full Text][PDF]

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