In response to our paper on the evolutionary history of the Chinese flora, Qian suggests that certain features of the divergence time estimation employed might have led to biased conclusions in Lu et al (2018). Here, we consider Qian’s specific criticisms, explore the extent of uncertainty in the data and demonstrate that (i) no systematic bias toward dates that are too young or too old is detected in Lu et al.; (ii) constraint of the crown age of angiosperms does not bias the generic ages estimated by Lu et al.; and (iii) ages derived from the Chinese regional phylogeny do not bias the conclusions reported by Lu et al. All these analyses confirm that the conclusions reported previously are robust. We argue that, like many large-scale biodiversity analyses, sources of noise in divergence time estimation are to be expected, but these should not be confused with bias.