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The Princess of Fire – a red flame in monsoon gardens!

April 16, 2010

Bauhinia strychnifolia is dressed in sinful Fuchsia-red robes. She is an endemic vine, unique to the vanishing dry lowland forests of northern Thailand. Her competitors succumb in fire, while she survives, making her well adapted to the Chiang Mai valley. However, annual man-made fires are bad even to her, natural fires would only be every 5-10 years. Being a native beauty, she is well adapted to the monsoon climate, why care is very easy, and the growth is rapid. Although adapted to the droughts, you can give her water all year round. Her green foliage is quite appealing, quickly forming a living curtain. I predict that in a few years, this species will be commonly grown in most Chiang Mai gardens. Do you want an English name? How about “Princess of Fire”, alluding to her flaming red flowers, her natural fire-prone habitat, her period of blossom during the hottest time of the year (+40°C) and to the similarly hot, red, female devil (Elizabeth Hurley) in the movie “Bedazzled”?

Eric Danell

Bauhinia strychnifolia, now in blossom at Dokmai Garden

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