Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM for short) has roots that extend back thousands of years, with seeds in folk cures that were already old when ancient Chinese scholars first began writing them down. It's no wonder, then, that one of China's oldest official medicinal plants gardens has been declared by Guinness World Records to be the world's largest of its kind.
Located in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region (right) of southwestern China, the Guangxi Medicinal Plants Botanical Garden was founded in 1959 by the region's health department.
Considering the difficult working conditions caused by first the Great Leap Forward and then the Cultural Revolution, it seems a wonder the garden managed to survive, much less thrive.
Thrive it has, however, and it continues to serve as a vital national resource where medicinal plants are collected, saved, cultivated and their properties researched. Officials from Guinness World Records recently visited the 202 hectare (2.02 square kilometers) garden and confirmed it held “the most varieties of medicinal plants and the largest cultivated area of medicinal plants in the world.”
In just over a half-century, the Guangxi Medicinal Plants Botanical Garden has managed to save over 6,000 varieties of medicinal plants over which more than 100 are considered endangered. In addition, the garden has cataloged and stored 3,200 different types of medicinal plant seeds and has archived approximately 100,000 medicinal plant images.
Official recognition by Guinness World Records is expected to bring unaccustomed publicity to the garden and as a consequence, more visits from tourists.
Though the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is relatively undeveloped compared to other areas of China, the central government plans to improve infrastructure so that travel to the Guangxi Medicinal Plants Botanical Garden won't be such an arduous undertaking.
As well, plans are afoot to build the facility into an advanced international medicinal plants conservation base as well as a center for the practice of traditional Chinese medicine, culture and science. (via Global Times, Virtual Tourist, and Facts and Details)