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Rare Chinese tree flowers for the first time in a century

Emmenopterys henryi flowers in Roath Park Credit: Cardiff Council

A rare Chinese tree has flowered for the first time in a British park - more than 100 years after it was planted.

The recent heatwave is believed to be the reason behind the blossom - only the sixth time the species has flowered here.

The Emmenopterys henryi was first introduced to Europe in 1907 by renowned plant collector Ernest Henry Wilson - but it took 64 years for its first recorded flowering, in the Villa Taranto gardens on Italy's Lake Maggiore.

One tree was planted in Roath Park, near Cardiff city centre, in the early 20th century - but had failed to produce its creamy white flowers until now.

Community park ranger Gareth Stamp said: "This really is something special to see. I must have walked past this tree a million times but I never expected to see it in flower - and who knows, it happens so rarely, maybe I never will again."

The tree was introduced from China in 1907 Credit: Cardiff Council

The tree - which belongs to the Rubiaceae family and is found in southern China and Vietnam - is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the UK, and the first to flower since one in Cambridge in 2012.

The first recorded flowering of Emmenopterys henryi in the UK was at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex in 1987.