Cosmic cherry tree from space mystifies Japanese priests, researchers

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A cosmic mystery is uniting monks and scientists in Japan after a tree grown from a cherry stone that orbited the Earth for eight months bloomed years earlier than expected — and with very surprising flowers.

A cherry blossom from a cherry pit onboard the International Space Station (ISS), is shown at the Ganjoji temple in Japan,  on April 3.

A cherry blossom from a cherry pit onboard the International Space Station (ISS), is shown at the Ganjoji temple in Japan, on April 3.

The four-year-old sapling — grown from a cherry pit that spent time onboard the International Space Station (ISS) — burst into blossom on April 1, possibly a full six years ahead of Mother Nature’s normal schedule. …

“We are amazed to see how fast it has grown,” Masahiro Kajita, chief priest at the Ganjoji temple in Gifu, told AFP by telephone. “A stone from the original tree had never sprouted before. We are very happy because it will succeed the old tree, which is said to be 1,250 years old.” …

Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba, who took part in the project, told AFP she was stumped by the extra-terrestrial mystery. “We still cannot rule out the possibility that it has been somewhat influenced by its exposure to the space environment,” she said.

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