This glutinous rice variety has long, flat grains. The glumes that cover the seed are pale red with a red tip, almost like a mouth. Once husked, the grains are jade-white in color. The rice has particularly delicate, persistent flavor.
One of the many different rice varieties in China (there are estimated to be around 40,000), it originated in the village of Qilong, in the county of Hongya in the southwestern region of Szechuan. It has been preserved by local farmers for centuries. Before every harvest they select the best plants—the ones with the strongest stalks, the fullest spikelets, the brightest-colored seeds—then dry them and store them for the following sowing. The rice is sown four or five days before the spring equinox, then replanted after 40 days. At the start of May it starts to germinate, the spikelets develop in mid-July and the harvest takes place in early September. The average yield is 250 kilos per acre.
These days only a few hundred quintals are produced, which are not sold but kept exclusively for the growers’ own consumption. This is due to the variety’s low productivity, and the fact that with fairly long stalks (around 1.53 m) the plants have a tendency to flatten. In fact this variety has a low resistance to wind. The price is not very remunerative and this has led to the local growers gradually abandoning the variety.
In the 1960s and ‘70s two varieties of glutinous rice were cultivated in Hongya county, and used to prepare foods for welcoming guests (mainly sweet puffed rice and a traditional rice wine) or for tourists. The other variety is now extinct and the red-tipped variety survives only in small quantities.