Red plum blossoms at Hwaeomsa. (Hwaeomsa)
The red plum blossoms at Hwaeomsa, a temple on the slopes of Jirisan in South Jeolla Province, have been designated as a natural monument, Hwaeomsa said Thursday.
Hwaeomsa is one of the 25 head temples run by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
The temple is recognized as a cultural heritage site, as it is already home to two other natural monuments -- a winter-flowering cherry tree (natural monument No. 38) and wild plum blossoms (natural monument No. 485) -- as well as five national treasures and nine treasures.
The temple said its red plum blossoms have “academic value,” because they grow differently from other natural monument-designated plum blossoms and are blackish, standing out among those with a shade of pink and white.
The red plum blossoms were first planted during the reign of King Sukjong (1674-1720) in the latter period of Joseon.
“We hope to make the flowers known more and advance their aesthetic value going forward,” the temple said.
The Cultural Heritage Administration said the flowers need preservation efforts. The agency named Hwaeomsa’s wild plum blossoms a natural monument in 2007. The Thursday designation brings the tally of plum blossoms recognized as natural monuments to five. All but one are at temples.