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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

'Miracle pine' seedlings growing in pods at institute


Seedlings of the "miracle pine" that remained standing among a grove of thousands swept away in the March tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, are growing in pods at a forestry institute and will be planted in the city at a future date.

The 260-year-old, 70-meter pine, however, is not expected to survive as its roots have been rotted by the seawater.

Sumitomo Forestry Group said it has grown 18 seedlings from seeds taken from pine cones from the tree at its institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. It unveiled the plants Wednesday at a press conference in Tokyo.

The institute collected the seeds in April and kept them chilled for about six months before they successfully germinated between September and December.

"This may be just a small and faint light, but hopefully the seedlings of the pine tree that had survived the devastating tsunami will help with the reconstruction of Rikuzentakata," said Kentaro Nakamura, chief researcher of the institute.

The tree was the only survivor among around 70,000 that once stood on a scenic coastal stretch.

The seedlings have grown to a length of 2 to 4 cm but need to reach 30 cm to 50 cm before they can be planted. This will take five to six years if grafting is involved.

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