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  "Space peonies" in full bloom in Shandong  

  

 

SEVENTEEN "space peonies" that sprouted from seeds that orbited the Earth on the Shenzhou-III spaceship in 2002 are in full bloom in Heze, in eastern China's Shandong Province.  

The flowers were the largest attraction at the 2007 Heze International Peony Festival that began on Sunday.  

This was China's first experiment on peony seeds under weightless conditions, said Sun Jingyu, an expert with Caozhou Peony Garden in Heze. 

^The peonies start blooming nearly two years earlier than the ordinary breeds, ̄ Sun said.  

^They grow more vigorously, with thicker stems and obvious heredity genetic characteristics. ̄  

According to the expert, Shenzhou-III was carrying 200 selected peony seeds, and they were all sowed and cared for by peony experts in the garden since 2003.  

As a result, more than 30 peony seeds survived.

 

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