Mystery surrounds the early blooming of the Japanese cherry tree that returned from a trip into space, leaving the Buddhist monks and scientists that take care of it with love speechless. The tree, that is four years old, bloomed in early April and that is six years earlier than the average time needed for similar plants.

Cherry in space

Cherry in space

One of the priests of the temple Ganjoji in Gifu region of central Japan said that the tree bloomed really quickly, at an amazing speed. The pit from which this tree was planted originated from a cherry tree that the monks have taken care of with the utmost care for generations. This specific tree is believed to be 1,250 years old according to local legend.

Ganjoji's sacred cherry tree

Ganjoji’s sacred cherry tree

Apparently, this is the first time a seed from this sacred cherry tree has such (if any) growth! The monks are very happy and pleased with the fact that this little tree will be the successor of it, since there have never been any other trees coming from it. They may approach this matter like this but why did the tree have such an accelarated growing speed?

Japanese sakura

Japanese sakura

Exposure to cosmic radiation

The riddle grows as it is known that the miraculous seed had gone through a real odyssey in space before returning to the temple it belonged. It was chosen years ago along with other seeds from the sacred tree but also from trees of other regions. Cherry trees are called sakura in Japanese and its people love watching them bloom in spring, as it is their national tree. So, the seeds were sent to space in November 2008 for a trip that was to last eight months. Finally, after going around our planet 4,100 times, they returned to earth to be examined. Some of these seeds were dissected in the laboratory in the name of science but most of them returned to their hometowns and some were planted close to the ancestral tree.

Cherry in space

Cherry in space

Amazingly as you may say, within just four years, Ganjoji’s space cherry tree has already reached a height of four meters. In the beginning, it was treated as part of an educational program designed to show children how to plant and the seeds were supposed to blossom ten years later, in the children’s coming of age. That would teach them things about evolution and continuous improvement, but the space cherry tree had other plans.

This unusually rapid growth has led the researchers participating to the program believe that this could be owing to the exposure of the seeds to cosmic rays. Yet, this is something that our current level of knowledge and technology cannot explain scientifically therefore is still in a theoritical stage. Was it the space or the extreme care shown by the monks that lead to the astonishing blooming? I guess that we’ll have to wait to find out.

Cherry in bloom

Cherry in bloom

More weird plants here: A strange plant that never dies, The flower caterpillar

 By +Nikos Kontorigas

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