In the spring of 1987, delegates to the Sixth Session of the Eighth Municipal People's Congress, meeting in the Great Hall of the People. Overwhelmingly approved the scholar tree and oriental cypress as the official city trees, the Chinese rose and the chrysanthemum as Beijing's official city flowers.
The stately cypress symbolizes the courage and strength of the Chinese people, their simple, and hard working nature and their defiance in the face of aggression. This Platydadus Orientalis, or Oriental Arborvites, can grow as tall as 20 meters. Some of those in Zhongshan Park were planted as long as 1,000 years ago during the Liao Dynasty.
The scholar tree is a symbol of good fortune, joy and well-being. Dating back to the Qin and Han dynasties Sophora Japonica were planted extensively at the Tang Dynasty Imperial Palace in Chang' an. At Beihai Park an ancient specimen in the courtyard of the Painters Corridor, is believed to have been planted during the Tang Dynasty, before 907. Another ancient scholar tree near the Broken Bridge in the Forbidden City is said to have been planted before 1125. Both are well adapted to Beijing's cold, dry winter, hot and dry summer, and alkaline soil.
The rose, a Chinese native, has been cross-bred many times, but it still has half of the original Chinese strain, Known as Perpetual Spring, Monthly Red, Snow Challenger and Victorious, it is fast growing, regenerates easily and is graceful and long blooming (May to October).
The chrysanthemum has many names and varieties. In Beijing potted chrysanthemums may be seen year round. They flower in summer and fall naturally but can be forced to bloom any time of year.
During the Qing Dynasty, there were 400 rare strains of chrysanthemum. Beijing's flora-culturists now boast more than 1,000 varieties.