How does your garden grow?
By Eric Danell,
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 26.6°C. 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
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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