Into the forest: quest for wild peach trees ahead of Lunar New Year

By Ngoc Thanh   January 12, 2017 | 01:40 am PT
Peach blossoms are an integral part of the Lunar New Year holiday in northen Vietnam.

Similar to pine trees used for the Christmas holiday in the West, Vietnamese, especially those living in the north, often use peach blossoms for the Tet holiday.

Northern people say that peach flowers blossom in spring during Tet, while most other flowers remain hidden. This symbolizes the strength and vitality of the peach trees, and their colorful hue is believed to bring luck, love and joy to people during the first days of the year. 

There are two popular kinds of peach blossoms in Vietnam: forest peach with its light pink color and Hanoi’s specialty - Nhat Tan - with a dark pink color.

For the last few years, many Vietnamese have turned to forest peach trees instead of the Hanoian version as their ornamental plants for Tet. However, this trend has stirred up a debate about how to save wild forest peach trees when they are in such high demand.


Forest peach trees, which grow in the forests of northern mountainous provinces, are preferred for their wild beauty.  


As the Tet holiday approaches, many street markets are selling forest peach blossoms, most of which have not blossomed yet, in the northern provinces of Hoa Binh and Dien Bien. A trader told VnEpxress: "High demand for wild peach trees from lowland people gives us a business opportunity.”


A H’mong woman ties peach branches together on Highway 6 in Son La Province, 320 kilometers from Hanoi.


This kind of work can earn her from VND100,000-150,000 ($4.4-6.6) per day.


Many lowland traders from Hai Phong and Hanoi have arrived in mountainous provinces to collect forest peach trees.


With their popularity growing, northern people have set out in search to find wild peach trees. It’s not easy to find a wild tree so locals are growing their own instead.


A man hacks off a branch of a 6-year-old peach tree in his garden. "Selling peach blossoms is the main source of my family’s income during Tet,” he said.


Me Van Dan from the northern province of Son La said: “I have sold 10 peach trees aged 16 years old at VND5 million ($220) each. I will have to wait 3-5 years until the trees regrow and are ready for sale.”


Trader Giang A Sinh said that he has to travel 160 kilometers to collect his peach trees. Prices range from VND400,000 up to VND5 million ($17-220), depending on their age and structure.

Photos by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

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