Seeds from a tree which survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb are being grown in Glasgow. 

Hiro Shimai, who is Japanese and grew up just 30km from the city of Hiroshima, is working at the Botanic Gardens where he is part of a team nurturing the seeds.

Known as the Ginkgo Tree seeds, the precious cargo ended up in the Botanics after they were gifted to Glasgow City Council as part of an international peace initiative. 

The seeds were planted in June, and have already grown to saplings between 15 and 20 centimetres tall. When big and sturdy enough, the intention is for them to be planted in Glasgow parks, serving as a reminder of the horrors of Hiroshima and as a promotion of world peace. 

Hiro moved to Glasgow in January of this year to begin working as a curator at the Botanic Gardens in the West End - and after a relocation of 6000 miles is now working on a project tied intrinsically to his homeland. 

Read more: Scotland's great gold rush: how dream of fortune turned to destitution

The Japanese curator’s ties to the Ginkgo Tree seeds are not only geographical. His mother, who is now in her 90s, bore witness to the radioactive mushroom cloud that the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima in August 1945 created. 

The town where his mother grew up escaped the worst of the tragedy given Hiroshima is surrounded by mountains, and she recalls providing food to the injured who had escaped and fled the nuclear fallout.

The Ginkgo tree is also known as the Survivor Tree - given it miraculously lived through the atomic bombing. More than 210,000 people were killed when the United States dropped two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan on 6 and 9 August 1945, instantly reducing them to rubble. 

To this day, the Survivor Tree continues to grow in the famous Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima, but some of its seeds have also been sent across the world to expand its roots and promote a message of peace. 

The seeds are distributed by the Mayors for Peace project, which campaigns for international nuclear disarmament, and sends the seeds to its member cities, of which Glasgow is one, to promote its message of peace. 

Mayors for Peace project’s UK and Ireland Secretary Richard Outram was responsible for getting the seeds of peace from Japan to Glasgow. Outram was an intern with the project when he had the chance to see the Survivor Tree in Shukkeien Garden for himself, and vowed to get as many cities involved in the peace initiative as possible. 

Read more: University of Strathclyde share in International Bilateral Fund

Hiro was at the Botanic Gardens to receive the seeds by mail on behalf of Glasgow and carefully planted them with colleagues, and seedlings have already now appeared. 

Hiro said: “I am very happy to be part of this project. Ginkgo Trees are very common in Japan. They are very hardy trees, but we weren’t sure if the seeds would germinate when we planted them. I was very relieved when the seedlings appeared.”

He continued: “Hopefully, they will grow to be tall and strong enough to be planted out in Kelvingrove Park where the trees could live for at least 100 years and remind everyone of the importance of peace. I hope no one ever forgets what happened at Hiroshima.”

Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Councillor Jacqueline McLaren, said: “Glasgow is proud to be a member of Mayors for Peace and we’re honoured to receive seeds from the survivor tree. It is an extraordinary coincidence that Hiro works in Glasgow and is one of the staff taking care of the saplings. The trees, and everything they represent, are hugely significant and it must be especially important for Hiro.

“I hope the saplings grow tall and strong and can’t wait to see them planted out in a prominent place in the city where they will stand as living memorials to all those killed and injured by the bomb and also serve as a reminder about the futility of war.