flowering buds are green and club-like. The buds may resemble flowers with
many stigmata, but the hairs are situated on the sepals. The sugary droplets
attract ants which may kill pests eating the flowering buds.
Sindora siamensis (Fabaceae,
Caesalpinioideae), is a lovely name for a rather common but overlooked tree
with a magnificent wood. After six years of waiting the Dokmai Garden
saplings now display their first flowering buds ever.
The bark of a Sindora siamensis sapling is yellowish without clear
lenticels, while grey and with many horizontal lenticels in young Afzelia
Although the wood is durable, termite resistant, beautiful and so useful for
furniture or even construction, I doubt future carpenters will know much
about its qualities. While the tree is still known to Thai lowland farmers,
city Thais always look puzzled when I explain this is not ‘makha’, but
‘makha tae’. The circular pods are edible when green, but neither timber nor
fruits are the reasons we grow the tree here at Dokmai Garden. We do not
grow it to fit it into a landscape design either; we grow it for its own
sake, because we love it. To explain we grow some plants not for colour nor
for money nor for food is difficult, love is hard to explain. We respect
species that grew on Earth before the dawn of man, species that do not need
man for its survival, species in which every structure has a meaning; i.e.
promoting survival and reproduction, and are not a result of artistic
The leaf of
‘makha tae’ Sindora siamensis (left) is quite similar to that of its
relative ‘makha’ Afzelia xylocarpa (right). Sindora siamensis has longer,
leathery, leaflets reminding one of Rhododendron leaves, while Afzelia
xylocarpa has thinner, softer and smaller leaves.
There are about 18-20 species of
Sindora, all from Southeast Asia. Three species occur in Thailand. While
Afzelia xylocarpa is well adapted to dry environments, Sindora siamensis
prefers it a bit more wet and can sometimes be seen as solitary trees near
rice fields, such as in Ketsanee’s hometown Roi-Et. The genus name Sindora
was coined by the Dutch-German botanist Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel
(1811-1871). It is a Latinized form of ‘Sindur’, an Indonesian name for
various Sindora trees. An English name for this particular species could be
I hope these pictures will intrigue our local readers to look out for it. It
probably grows not too far from your house if you live on the Thai
countryside. What used to be an anonymous green during a dog-walk, may now
stand out as a valuable timber with edible fruits, and her name is Sindora!
www.dokmaigarden.co.th. [email protected]