How does your garden grow?
By Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden
The Golden Trumpet Tree
chrysotricha. ‘Chrysotricha’ or ‘golden hair’ refers to the golden-brownish
hairs on calyx and fruits (a dry capsule).
Right now, at the onset of the hot dry
season, also called the flowering season, you will find lovely indigenous
flowering trees along the Chiang Mai mountain roads: snowy ’mountain orchid
tree’ (Bauhinia variegata), red Erythrina spp, ’red kapok’ (Bombax ceiba),
pink clouds of ’pride of Lanna’ (Congea tomentosa), ‘pink shower trees’
(Cassia bakeriana), orange Butea monosperma, orange Radermachera ignea and
soon the white blossom of ’duabanga’ (Duabanga grandiflora). If you wish to
learn more about native northern Thai trees you need Simon and Pindar
Gardner’s book of which we have four specimens left.
In Chiang Mai town there are two exotic golden boulevard trees currently in
blossom: the silver trumpet-tree (Tabebuia aurea, Bignoniaceae) with silvery
leaflets on long stalks, and the golden trumpet-tree (Tabebuia chrysotricha
syn. Handroanthus chrysotrichus) with golden flowers on virtually naked
branches this time of the year.
The genus Tabebuia encompasses 60-100 species depending on how you define
the genus and the species. There are many yellow species so identification
can be difficult. The scientific name Tabebuia is derived from a name used
by Brazilian natives. Smitinand (2001) does not list any of these exotic
species but it seems many yellow tabebuias are collectively called ‘lueang
India’ in Central Thai language.
Some researchers use the stricter genus name Handroanthus, created in honour
of the Brazilian botanist Oswaldo Handro (1908-1986). The golden
trumpet-tree is supposedly the national flower of Brazil although not in a
rigid sense (may be other Handroanthus spp). It is not only a cherished
ornamental, but has one of the hardest timbers on the continent and is also
The ‘silver trumpet-tree’ can be seen on the Hang Dong-Chiang Mai road (108)
and the ‘golden trumpet-tree’ grows along the Samoeng road (1269) and en
masse along the freeway south of Chiang Rai. Evidently these species like
full sun and a seasonally wet and dry monsoon climate. Some literature refer
to them as rain forest (ever wet) plants, but I think in such cases the
authors have a dim perception of what a rain forest is, and so it is much
better to look up their geographical origin. If a plant comes from
equatorial evergreen lowlands it is likely to be a true rainforest plant
(such as mangosteen and durian), demanding a moist climate. If they come
from deciduous tropical lowland forests they are likely to demand or survive
a long and hot dry season. In this case T. chrysotricha is native to the
Brazilian tropical dry Atlantic forests and T. aurea is native to the
subtropical drylands of Gran Chaco in southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern
Argentina. www.dokmaigarden.co.th. [email protected]
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