Ming Yuan Pharmacy

Top choice in Chiayi

Ming Yuan was a pharmacy; now it's a shrine to Taiwan's indigenous flora. Owner Mr Tsai has managed to cram every corner of the tiny shop with unusual seeds, suspended above, stuffed into boxes stacked ceiling-high, or poking out from behind a mirror. The intense and sociable 60-year-old will show you single-seed red beans (單子紅豆, dānzi hóngdòu) and sandbox-tree capsules (沙盤樹, shāpán shù), which he collects and turns into lovely ornaments (NT$20 to $300).

Mr Tsai has written extensively about Taiwan's trees. He speaks little English but can rattle off 'Ormosia monosperma' faster than you can say, 'What?' The shop is closed when he's out in the hills. Ming Yuan is 1.7km from Chiayi Train Station via Zhongzheng Road.

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