July 15, 2024

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Yuncheng’s sweet jujubes stand test of time

3 min read

A photo taken on September 14, 2020, shows a woman sorting jujubes in an orchard in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CFP

A photo taken on September 14, 2020, shows a woman sorting jujubes in an orchard in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CFP

The sweet taste of Yuncheng’s jujubes has been cultivated over hundreds of years, providing flavor for meat dishes, teas, treats and snacks for foodies. Nestled in Yuncheng’s Jishan County is an ancient jujube plantation, which spreads over nearly 1,000 hectares and countless groves. Bearing little red globes from their branches, the trees bear the stories of farmers from as far back as China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907). Today, they continue to contribute to the agricultural economy in this corner of China’s Shanxi Province.

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows visitors at the entrance of the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows visitors at the entrance of the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows visitors at the entrance of the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

The National Jujube Theme Park was approved for establishment in January 2017, paving the way for a facility that would preserve the heritage of over 17,000 ancient trees. It’s considered one of the oldest jujube parks in China and is administered as a specialized national forest park in Shanxi. The trees enjoy a 92.23 per cent coverage rate in the park, some of which are over 1,000 years old.

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows an ancient jujube tree that was once struck by lightning in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows an ancient jujube tree that was once struck by lightning in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows an ancient jujube tree that was once struck by lightning in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

One particular tree near the park’s Gantang Well bears testament to the tenacity of the plantation and is understood to be around 1,500 years old. A local guide in the park said the tree was once struck by lightning during its lifetime, splitting it in two down the middle of its trunk. Although it had been parted, it has joined up again on its lower trunk. The guide described it as a symbol of love: it has separate parts but remains one tree. 

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows locals taking part in a cultural performance at the Gantang Well in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows locals taking part in a cultural performance at the Gantang Well in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows locals taking part in a cultural performance at the Gantang Well in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

The well itself is considered to be a symbol of benevolence. Built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the local Jishan County magistrate at the time Liu Sanxi broke an imperial ban and had it constructed, bringing relief to the plantation during a drought. A pavilion was later erected at the well to commemorate Liu’s achievement. Today, visitors can experience the traditional irrigation techniques of the old well, as water is pulled up and poured into ducts that flow into the soil of the nearby jujube trees.

A photo shows a sightseeing amusement train in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province on November 14, 2023. /CGTN

A photo shows a sightseeing amusement train in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province on November 14, 2023. /CGTN

A photo shows a sightseeing amusement train in the National Jujube Theme Park in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province on November 14, 2023. /CGTN

Through modern tour facilities meandering through the stretches of jujube trees, the park combines elements of a child-friendly amusement park with countryside scenery. A brightly-decorated sightseeing train zips past the branches carting visitors between stops in the park. There’s even homestay accommodation in the grounds and the Jishan Banzao Museum, a facility that opened in 2020 to encapsulate the agricultural heritage of the area through models and displays. The museum offers an opportunity to further explore Jishan County’s story at the end of visit to the park, unpacking the origins of the year-round farming cycle initiated by the early farmers there. It’s an acknowledgement of the achievements of Jishan’s sweet jujubes.

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows a museum worker guiding visitors through the Jishan Banzao Museum in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows a museum worker guiding visitors through the Jishan Banzao Museum in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

A photo taken on November 14, 2023, shows a museum worker guiding visitors through the Jishan Banzao Museum in Jishan County of Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. /CGTN

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