One of the most attractive trees introduced to Malaysia in recent years is the golden chain tree, Lophanthera lactescens. This caught the attention of Dr Mahathir, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, during his official visit to Brazil. Shortly after Dr Mahathir's return, I was asked to identify a sample of the plant at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia in Kepong. Within a couple of years, the first plants were being offered for sale, but they were few and expensive and apparently propagated by cuttings or marcots. The trees were able to flower prolifically, but the fruits were all devoid of seeds.
Last month I was greatly surprised to find trees producing apparently viable seeds. I collected and planted the seeds and after one month, they began to germinate.
Plants raised from seeds are genetically variable, while plants propagated by cuttings are genetically uniform. Genetic variation allows for selection of plants best suited for particular needs, in this case, horticultural needs under Malaysian conditions. The original plants would have been adapted to Brazilian conditions and may be suboptimal for Malaysia. We do not know what could be better because we have no basis for comparison and selection. The successful production of seeds opens up the horticultural possibilities.
I can provide seeds to those in Malaysia or Singapore who would like to try them out.