Southwest China's Yunnan Province is a famous "must-visit" place for tourists from all over the world. Every year during summer and autumn, tourists can expect to see a unique plant with delicate blossoms floating on the water. Ottelia acuminata, an aquatic plant species endemic to China, is not only witnessing the boost in tourism but also the improvement in the local environment.
Ottelia acuminata grows in freshwater lakes in the southern parts of China. It blooms from May to October and often becomes an "internet sensation" among tourists and photographers. The plant is not only appealing to the eye but also the tastebuds as it is used to make a tasty cold dish. Because it needs high-quality water to thrive, the Ottelia acuminata is known as a "touchstone of water quality" and is viewed as an indicator plant for gauging the water quality in the area. In the past decades, the plant once disappeared from lakes including Dianchi, Yangzonghai and Xinyun due to environmental pollution and other reasons.
To follow the guideline of environmental protection in the 14th Five-Year Plan, the government and authorities in Yunnan worked to improved the water quality and continued their environmental protection efforts to gradually bring back the beautiful flower. Currently, the submerged vegetation in the Erhai lake has been restored to 34 square kilometers, and an abundance of Ottelia acuminata flowers are in bloom, which boosts the local tourism and planting industries.