Monday, April 21, 2008

The golden chain, Lophanthera lactescens

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.


Bill Garnett said...

We planted two golden chain trees, each over 12 feet tall) in our garden (Taiping, Perak) a few months ago but since then the leaves have been dropping daily. Do you know if this is common and can we expect the trees to revive. Thank s for any information.

Dr Francis Ng said...

I consulted a landscaper friend who used to plant Lophanthera for his clients. He says he has stopped because the trees react badly to transplanting, losing their leaves and taking a long time to recover. The trees should recover unless the planting hole has become waterlogged. People tend to overwater a tree that looks sick, and that will kill the tree faster.

I have transplanted small Lophanthera plants 1 - 2 ft tall and these do not have problems like the bigger plants.

If yours fails to recover try again with small plants.

Bill Garnett said...

Thank you very much for this information. The comment about overwatering was particularly useful.

I really appreciate that you took the time to find out this information for me. It never ceases to amaze me at how the Internet makes these type of connections with other people possible.

Aoran Lim said...

Dr.,is there any methods to get Lopanthera seeds germinate faster? Soaking in warm water or in sulphuric acid?

Dr Francis Ng said...

Aoran, I have not tried to speed up the germination. One month is a reasonable germination time for me. Of the plants I raised in April-May 2008, the first one began to flower in September 2010 i.e. after 28 months

Plants Lover said...

Dr. Francis, i'm in Indonesia, jakarta. How can i get the seedling/seeds of this plants? (lophanthera Lactescens)

Plants Lover said...

do you have werszewiczia coccinea?

GG said...

Dr. Francis, i would like to have the seeds of the golden chain tree. my email is pls do let me know how can i have it.

Thank you

Unknown said...

Hi Dr Francis. I would like to have the seeds of golden chain tree. I in Kelantan. My email

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Francis,

I have an adult golden chain tree of about 3 years, likely an adult but it does not seem to bloom. The leaves are healthful and waxy though. Tried fertilising, pruning and restricting water but no success so far. Will appreciate any suggestion. Thank you


tay kim hock said...

Dr Francis Ng,

May I know the golden chain tree flowering seasonally or all the year round?
I have rear some stingless bee, does the flower of the golden chain trees produce nectar ? There are about 40 matures trees in my Taman.

Your advise is appreciated


Best regards


Unknown said...

The leaves to the plant had dropped and the new shoots are coming out but not growing what can i do. Thank you