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How does your garden grow?  
By Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden


It is getting hot!

An emerging fruit of the Strophanthus perakensis as a result of my cross pollination by hand. The shape of the twin fruit is typical of many Apocynaceae, but I had expected a much longer and pointed fruit. Whether or not this is a normal fruit remains to find out by following it until maturity, and by observing other fruits during the coming years.

Here in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand the hot season begins in mid February when the afternoon temperatures surpass 32 C. Night temperatures are perfect, although grandma Nived put on a sweater for grandchild Mika when the temperature dropped to 26.6C. The bird chorus at night is impressive and at daytime we admire the fluffy pink clouds of the pink shower tree (Cassia bakeriana, Fabaceae).
Many of the guide books are responsible for declaring when the best time is to come, but that depends on what you like. If you love heat and plants like me, and if you want to stay away from crowds and save money, this is a good time. The guidebooks describe the current haze due to the man-made forest fires as a problem, and it is for locals who must live with it forever, but it is hardly a problem for a short-term visitor. I am more concerned about the fires’ destructive impact on flora and wildlife than on the impact on my own health.
March is the time for many Dendrobium orchid blossom, and also for many wild members of the lilavadee (Apocynaceae) family such as Holarrhena. A new blossom of this family at Dokmai Garden is a plant I have identified as Strophanthus perakensis. The Flora of Thailand key on this family is most pedagogic and handy, but since this is presumably quite a rare plant, fruits are undescribed and pictures scarce.
Scrambly woody growth, opposite leaves with a milky latex, no punctuation beneath the leaves, no spines, corolla lobes overlap to the right in the bud, corona present as in the picture, no long corolla lobes as in the other two native Strophanthus species. The diameter of the flower is around 6 cm. The plant should be grown in full sun. It should be considered very poisonous. New English name: Hydra’s Hug.

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It is getting hot!