Friday, May 28, 2010

Camellia japonica flowering in KL


Camellias flower all year on the highland resorts of Malaysia but not in the lowlands. I have tried for years to grow camellias in Kuala Lumpur, in sun as well as in shade, but even if they formed flower buds, the buds would dry up and abort without blooming. It has been terribly frustrating. Finally, one plant has flowered, after three years in a pot, under the shade of a langsat tree. The first flower, about 3 months ago, might have been a fluke. Now the plant is bearing its third flower, indicating that some barrier has been broken. Now we know it can be done, we can try harder to add camillias to our lowland gardens.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dipterocarpus alatus--iconic giant street tree of Ho Chi Minh City


I visited Ho Chi Minh City recently and was amazed to see giant trees of Dipterocarpus alalus growing as street trees in the older parts of the city. I estimate their age to be 80 to 100 years, which means they would have been planted during French colonial rule. Dipterocarpus alatus belongs to Dipterocarpaceae, which is the dominant timber-tree family of SE Asia. Dipterocarpus alatus itself is native to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines.

In Malaysia and Singapore two other members of the family have been planted as street trees in the past 10 - 20 years. These are Hopea odorata (also commonly planted in Vietnam) and Shorea roxburghii. Both are doing well as street trees and will eventually become giants.
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