Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 4 years 10 months ago

Previously in Phase 2, I have found reliable resources on the internet and also doing my 3's - 5's, which are a series of interviews conducted on people in the village who will give you more contacts to interview later on. In this Phase, I will be getting my information on the topic of study. Going to the people my 3's - 5's suggested me shouldn't be that hard right? But after all, it's easier said than done. 


Background Information (from Phase 1):

Yunnan is located near the south of china next to Laos and Burma. Famous for having China's largest reserve of biological resources and common metals, it also has China's greatest variety of plants life. Out of the 33,000 species of plants growing in China, more than half of them - around 19,000 - originated from Yunnan. About 6,000 species are used for medicinal purposes and herbs, and about 2,500 are endemal and ornamental plants.[1,2] Gentiana, Rhododendron, and Primula are just the few of the genera of plants that are commonly found in Yunnan. [2] Plant growing zones range from tropical to alpine, and more than half of Yunnan is forested. [2,3]

"Main crops include rice, cotton, beans, sugar cane, tobacco, and wheat. The forests are lush and plentiful, home to many medicinal herbs, vast timber, and rare animals. The nearby Mt. Diancang contains a massive deposit of highly desired Yunnan marble that is used both for ocnstruction and indigenous carvings." [5] Yunnan is a wonderful place. Farmers plentiful. The quote above describes Dali, where the microcampus groups will be heading. "The area around the lake is extremely fertile, enjoying two harvest seasons every year." [5] Frost free seasons last an average of 300-330 days further North near Dali. Frost seasons are also comparatively warm, usually not going below the mark of -5C. [6] In addition, July temperatures reach up to 22C while January temperatures reach up to 9C. This allows for the anual growing of 10 months. Yunnan is also famous for monsoons, which usually happen around May. 

In addition, China contains about 30,000 angiosperms, 270 gymnosperms, and 2700 pteridophyts. About 18,000 of those species are in Yunnan. Over 5,000 species have been extinct over the past decades mainly because of economic growth and population increases. Currently, exotic and Flora plant species are mainly found in highly rural areas in Yunnan and Sichuan due to uneven distribution.[1, 7] Yunnan also contains 51.6% of China's plant species. Yunnan also has 151 rare and endangered plant species, which makes up 42.6% of China's protected plants. Unfortunately, damages continue to happen as the population and industry start growing. [7]

Yunnan is also teeming with animal life. With 250 species of mammals, 360 species of fish, 140 species of reptiles, 90 species of amphibians, and 780 species of birds. [3] Yunnan also has 1836 vertabrate species, which make up 56.4% of China's total. And out of 335 China priority protected wild animals, Yunnan has 243 species, and which more than 50 are endemic to Yunnan. [7] In tropical forests near the south, Mammals are found in large numbers. Many of those are under state protection. Most of the domesticated animals are kept in both western canyon region and eastern plateau region. 

Information from 3's to 5's:

During my stay in Xizhou. I worked on my 3's to 5's. Which is a process where you make 3-5 minute recording with 3'5 people at the Linden Centre. The point of this is to find possible contacts in the village. Here is some information I got from interviewing them. You can check my contacts in Phase 2.

- The spiders in the area are usually very large and tend to built huge webs, but when the summer rain and monsoon season comes, it washes out a lot of the webs. I should check that out. In addition to spiders, the locals say that spiders here aren't poisonous, even the poisonous ones are not fatal or even really harmful, despite their size. 

Not much else, but I learned that from Mr. Linden during the interview on March 12, 15:08 PM. 

Information from local contacts: 

Since march 11, we have been travelling around town to find local contacts and get information out of them. I have not been very successful in finding contacts but I did get some information out of a few stall vendors. I also found out some information on a textbook and a man living up in the mountains, who I interviewed on the Mosque Hike. 

First of all. I would like to state some indigenous plants in the local area around Xizhou. Centuries ago, people have found out different flowers that are only found around Xizhou, and they found out it's use. This happened with 蒿草, it is a fern like plant that is used commonly as side dishes for food or for cleaning dishes. It is found on 苍山 and is plentyful. Thin Bamboo-like haocao is used commonly to clean bowls and acts like cleaning agent. And many fern-like haocao is used as a side ingredient for cooking, can be put in water for a slightly tangy taste. But it is also used to make a special type of green pudding that is eaten in a festival near the south of Xizhou, I will have to find out more about that later on. But the man I interviewed in the mountain was named Mr. Yang. He works permanently in a small stone shack and has to survive on all the plants he collects. I really want to find him again, but that would require me hike all the way up the mosque hike.


In the previous paragraph, I had explained about the 蒿草,which was an indigenous plant found on the 苍山. The reason this is relevant to my questions was because I wanted to find out what were some plants only found in Xizhou, and guess what, I found it! This also drives my progress forward because it really gave me a lot of information and I can further research this plant. This new information agrees with my previous research because this plant is suppose to survive in temperatures ranging from 15 - 25C. In the mountains in the afternoon, temperatures really stay in that range, so it is a good sign. It does not really disagree with any of my information. This plant raises a lot of new questions such as how did people find out about this plant and what what festival this plant is used in. 

蒿草is also used for many other things. For example, it is commonly used in order to make 香包, which is a type of bag that is made to smell nice. It is also used in many weddings. The tradition is that people would make a 绣球, which is 蒿草shaped into a bowl, and the bride would throw it into the crowd and if anyone in the crowd catches it, they would too, get married soon. 蒿草 is also used as a blood stopper, it has water sucking capabilities and can soak up blood and prevent wounds from getting larger.


This information really helped wrap up my understanding of this topic on 蒿草. I can further use the information on 蒿草 to probably determine what other mountain plants there are in the region. This information also got me a few answers to some of my 10 big questions. 

During my interview with Mrs. Yang of Yang's Guest House, I learned the common plants that are used in her garden and it's facts. Mrs. Yang usually buys them at the market or she plants it herself using previous flowers. First of all, there is a flower called 桂花。It is a flower that blooms only once a year. But when it blooms, swarms of red flowers pop out of nowhere. It also releases a sweet scent that is pleasant to many. It usually blooms around March and April. Not just that, the market price of this plant is at least 10,000 rmb. There is another flower called the 茶花. It is a small flower that looks kind of pathetic. It is mainly used as a decoration and it usually blooms around Chinese New Year. Mrs. Yang also has a flower called the 木瓜花. The flower creates small 木瓜's, which are fruits about the size of your palm. It is used in many dishes in Xizhou. It blooms around 3 times a year and each flower grows into the fruit. It's pollen attracts many bee's and butterfly's, that is why there are so many insects in the Yang's garden. Then, there is a flower called 三角梅, a unique flower that has 3 petals, 3 stymen. It's shade of purple and pink really makes it stand out, especially since it is so small. Lastly, there is a tree that makes fruits similar to oranges and mandarin, but isn't quite of both. It takes at least 10 year to get it's fruit. The tree bark is used as a herb and chinese medicine that cures tummy aches. You just have to wash it. 


The local crops that are mainly farmed are Garlic, Rice, Corn, and a huge industry of Tobbaco. During my interview with a farmer named Mr. Zhao, I found out the main reasons people started using Garlic and a lot of useful information. After the Garlic season is over, which is around March and April, farmers tend to start planting corn. But near the mountainside areas, people mostly plant corn. I also learned that the main Garlic exports go to Korea and Japan, mainly for the food use, but occasionally also used as medicine. In addition to this, I also found out that the reason people switched to Garlic was because big companies were willing to pay almost triple to price for Garlic compared to the other plants. Also, Garlic requires a lot less farmwork and rots later, and less bugs are attracted . And when the harvest season of Garlic is over, the corn they plant they sell to local populations and consumers. Except corn attracts lots of pests and they require more pesticides to be put on them. 


In this paragraph, I explained the Garlic industry here in Xizhou. 

Chinese medicine largely revolves around herbs, and many of these can be found in Xizhou. Here is what I learned. 红生 is a red, ginger-like herb that is found only in the depths of 苍山. It is suppose to help your intestines and digestive system. It is extremely rare and is only found in small portions, they sell at 50 rmb per piece. The next herb is called 丹桂, it is has a head and the roots. Both are dried up and used as a side dish when cooking food. It is suppose to help your circulatory system and "add blood" to your body. The last herb is a seed that is extracted from the Yue Piang Hua, it is very furry. You have to drink it like tea in order fo rit to have it's effect. The herb is suppose to help sinus problems such as allergies, stuffy nose, and swelling. 


The previous information I had gotten from 3 market vendors, Mr. Ma, Mr. Du, and Mr. Li. The information helps me answer the question What are some plants used in Chinese medicine? I also learned that they harvest different herbs in different seasons, so someone should check that out. 

Answers to previous questions (from Phase 1): 

In my Phase 1, I have listed some 10 big questions. In this step, I will be refining my 10 questions and either adding or removing some questions. Because some questions may seem good back in Shanghai, but became stupid once I arrived in Xizhou. Lets get started.

1. What are some native insect species?

I have not got a lot on this question, but I found out a bit on Arachnids. Most spiders here are not even poisonous, despite the size. And otherwise, all insects are found elsewhere in Yunnan and China. 

2. What are some exotic plant and insects?

One unique plant here in Xizhou is the Ficus Tree, which is a tree that can live up to hundreds of years old. The 茶花 is also a flower that people like to plant here, because of the blooming seasons and the nice smell, it is a popular choice among the locals. 

3. What are the native plant species?
The native plant species generally are based on the exotic plants. Because most other plants are found in all areas around China. 茶花 can be considered native, and the Ficus Tree. But otherwise, not much else. 
4. Are there any domesticated plant and animal species? 
Yes, most crops that are grown in this area are domesticated, such as Garlic, Corn, Wheat, and Potatoes. They are considered invasive as they take up all the land for other native plants to use. 
5. How do Insects and Plants coexist together
Most insects rely on the plants to survive. 菊花 is found all over 苍山, and require bees to pollinate it. While insects such as spiders, and Mantis's also rely on catching the pests that other flowers or crops attract. 
6. How does the climate affect the plants and insects in the region?
The reason I crossed out this question is because it is not really relevant to my research. 
7. Why did the butterfly population near Xizhou decrease drastically?
I did not manage to ask about that. 
8. What are the endangered plant and insect species?
There are many endangered species, such as the 层香 flower. It is near extinction because locals used to find it plenty in 苍山, but now, they only find it near HuaDianBa. 
9. How do the plants affect local life?
Locals use plants for many things, such as medicine use, daily life use, and food use. Medicines are like the 丹桂 and 红生, which are used commonly in Chinese medicine to cure a certain part of your body. Then there is the 蒿草, which is used for stopping blood like a cloth, washing bowls, and even used as a side dish for foods. Tons and tons of mountain plants are used as decorations, the 茶花,杜鹃花 are both spring bloomers that are extremely beautiful and good smelling. 
10. What are some plants used in Chinese medicine?
As I have stated before in my previous paragraphs, 红生,丹桂, and Yue Piang Hua are all used as Chinese Herbal medicines. Each helping different parts of your body. 


1. Wikitravel,, The Free Travel Guide, Jan. 14, 2015.

2. Xiao-Xian Li and Zhe-Kun Zhou,, copyright Hort-Science, Jan. 14, 2015. 

3. Encyclopedia Brittanica,, Jan. 14, 2015.

4. Wikipedia,, The Free Encyclopedia, Jan. 14, 2015

5. Linden Centre,, The Linden Yunnan Topography gallery, Jan. 15, 2015. 

6. YFAO,, Yunnan Climate and Rainfall, Jan 15, 2015

7. Biodiversity and Conservation, Jordi Lopez-Puyol and Fu-Min Zhang and Song Ge, November 2006, Volume 12, Jan. 15, 2015. 

8. Mrs. Yan, Gardener for the Linden Centre and YZR and BCF, Personal Interview conducted by Leonard L. on March 15, 2015.

9. Mr. Li, Fruit Vendor in the Xizhou Wet Market, Personal Interview conducted by Leonard L. on March 16, 2015. 

10. Mr. Du, Fruit Vendor in the Xizhou Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 16, 2015. 

11. Ms. Ma, Fruit Vendor in the Xizhou Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 16, 2015. 

12. Mrs. Yang, Wife of Mr. Yang (owner of Yangs Guest House), Personal Interview conducted by Leonard L. on March 17, 2015. 

13. Mr. Yang, Owner of Yangs Guest House, Personal Interview conducted by Leonard L. on March 17, 2015. 

14. Mrs. Zhao, Old Town Snack at SFJ, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 18, 2015.

15. Ms. Yang, Yard Entrance cook at SFJ, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 18, 2015. 

16. Ms. Zhao, Farmer at farms near the Linden Centre, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 19, 2015. 

17. Ms. Ma, Farmer, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 19, 2015. 

18. Mr. Zhao, Farmer, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 20, 2015. 

19. Mr. Tafel, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 10, 2015. 

20. Mr. Brian Linden, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 10, 2015. 

21. Mrs. Jeeny Linden, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 10, 2015. 

22. Mrs. Mai, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 10, 2015. 

23. Cecily, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 10, 2015. 

24. Mr. Yang, Golden Flower Restaurant Owner, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 22, 2015. 

25. Mr. Zhao, Guard at YZR, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 23, 2015. 

26. Ms. Yang, Kitchen Staff at Qing Zhen Xiao Chi, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 23, 2015. 

27. Mr. Ma, Herb Vendor at Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 25, 2015. 

28. Mr. Du, Herb Vendor at Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 25, 2015. 

29. Mr. Li, Herb Vendor at Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 25, 2015. 

30. Ms. Du, Crop seller at Wet Market, Personal Interview Conducted by Leonard L. on March 25, 2015. 

In this Phase, I have got all my information from background research to field research. My 3's to 5's gave me a lot of good contacts and my weeks of field research provided me with more than enough  information. In my Phase 4, I will start to emerge ideas and do my outlines and reflections. 


Very Technical information

Hi Leonard,


Its me again, your aunt Carol.  Your information today is very technical - you write like a professional with so many technical terms use just like in traditional chinese medicine.  Good job and I believe you must have learned alot and I learned alot from you too.  Hope to see you back home soon and you can conduct a lesson for all of the ignorant people like me a good lesson on the type of plants and their medicinal effect.


Lots of Love, Carol

Well done!!!

Hi Leonard,

By reading through your project from phase 0 till phase 4, I am very impressived how much works, interviews and research you have done in Xizhou plus Shanghai. I have learnt that you developed such a potential and motivative student putting the passion and strong effort in your project to make it as a best! Specially the way you enjoyed the sunny day a lot but overcame the raining day fast (like computer crashed and you lost the files and writing didn't be saved in time...) make me have confidence that you can and will go far starting from the high school next year. I only could say that I DO enjoy every pieces you have written so far as you are such a fun, interesting writer. I DO appreciate very much the effort and work you put in this project and the journals you posted on your blog.

Looking forward to see your final phase of your project in best!

With lots of love, Mom

My name is Leonard and I am a 10th grader (as of Nov 2016) studying at Shanghai American School. I stayed in Xizhou from March to April 2014. My Inquiry project was to study local plant and insect life. The reason I am studying this topic is because I have always been interested in ethology and ecology. Afterthoughts: Microcampus was a great way to step outside the bubble that I have insulated myself in for the entirety of my life. It was a unique experience, and I really got to experience life in rural China.