Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Weather curtails Hehuanshan blooms

PEAKED OUT:Unlike last year’s burst of colors, unstable weather conditions have greatly reduced the number of rhododendron buds this year, a park official said

By Yu Tai-lang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

People hike across Hehuanshan in Hualien County on Sunday.

Photo: You Tai-lang, Taipei Times

Tourists hoping to catch a view of rhododendrons in full bloom this and next month on Hehuanshan (合歡山), which straddles Nantou and Hualien counties, may be in for a disappointment, as inclement weather has significantly reduced the number of buds of various species of the flower in the area, the Taroko National Park Administration Center said.

Park administration center director Kuo Chuan-chen (郭傳鎮) said that the peak bloom time for rhododendrons is between April and May, with the flowers blossoming on the mountain’s Main Peak and East Peak, as well as on Shihmen Mountain (石門山), forming a spectacular sea of colors.

The center has received numerous telephone calls from tourists eager to learn about the flower season in the region, Kuo said.

“However, the sight of a mountain filled with clusters of pink flowers — like we saw last year — might not occur this year, because unstable weather conditions have greatly reduced the number of rhododendron buds,” Kuo said.

While there may be few rhododendron blooms high in the mountains, visitors might still see clusters at lower altitudes, he said, adding that people could still enjoy their flower viewing experience as long as they adopt a positive mindset.

A frequent visitor to the area surnamed Lai (賴), who hails from Hualien County, said Hehuanshan’s rhododendrons do not necessarily bloom each year and that based on his decades of experience viewing the flower, it usually hits its peak every two years.

However, Lai could not help expressing disappointment at this year’s blossoms.

“Although this year’s blossoms are expected to be less satisfactory than last year’s, what we have seen so far is far below expectations,” Lai said.

Visitors who want to learn more about the flower season can visit the administration center’s Web site (www.taroko.gov.tw), which features pictures of rhododendrons taken every day by specialized personnel, or contact the agency at (04) 2599-1195.

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