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Plants in our sales nursery – Aristolochia tagala, food for the Golden Birdwing!

June 3, 2010

A mighty butterfly that just began its season is the Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus aeacus, Papilionidae). It has black forewings and golden yellow hindwings. It flaps the wings fairly slowly, and do resemble a bird from a distance. At an early stage in the establishment of Dokmai Garden, we planted Aristolochia ringens, a most famous South American ornamental plant that has been naturalized in Thailand. The main reason was to support this gigantic butterfly with food for the larvae. I did find occasional larvae, mainly of another papilionid, the Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae), but I soon realised the picky princess wanted an indigenous species. I searched the vicinity of Dokmai Garden, which is not easy since the peasants kill everything with their obnoxious fires, but I did find Aristolochia tagala. It is an indigenous climber that grows many meters up in the trees, and makes fruits that eventually dry, looking like hanging baskets or upside down parachutes.

At Dokmai Garden we try to explain to the visitor that we love all plants, even the less colourful flowers. Some Thais look at us like we are mad when we show this inconspicuous brown flower. To us, it looks like an alien from outer space, and it provides food for the flying flowers (the butterflies). This statement takes some pedagogic efforts, as the metamorphosis of advanced insects is an unknown phenomenon to most Thais. They consider the larvae “harmful worms”, and do not see the relation to the butterflies. Luckily, we quite often have all developmental stages to show, although our butterfly garden is not enclosed, all our creatures are free. If they like Dokmai Garden, they are free to stay, if they wish to leave, we do not stop them. Some visitors have remarked we have more butterflies than the butterfly gardens, which is easily explained by the fact that over 930 plant species constitute delicious food for numerous species, and we provide a range of drinks for the adult butterflies too. At my favourite spot, I can see 25 species in just an hour.

Aristolochia tagala is available at our sales nursery, which we call “the Connoisseur’s Club”.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nigel Carr permalink
    June 22, 2010 4:47 PM

    Please can you tell me the Thai name (roman and Thai script if possible) of Aristolochia tagala. I would like to grow it in my garden in Samut Sakhorn.

    • June 22, 2010 7:30 PM

      Dear Nigel,

      Sometimes every village have their own names, sometimes one name applies to twenty different plants. Using a Thai name is a lot of gambling. Tem Smitinand lists the following names for Aristolochia tagala: Krachao phi mot, Krachao mot, Pu ling. I am sure there are many more. The best way is to learn the plants yourself, and trust your own identification. Do not put too much confidence in the vernacular names, they will just confuse you!

  2. October 26, 2010 3:00 AM

    Even though you are selling, there are no contact number, no email.

    How can I contact?

    • October 26, 2010 8:11 AM

      Dear Plant Lover,
      Dokmai Dogma is our blog. You can contact us either by sending a message like this, or visit our home page Dokmai Garden, which we normally keep as a link in most blogs. You can also click on our brand, the Buddha Hand, to the upper right, and then you will be directed to our website.
      Our phone number is 08-13866244
      Our e-mail is

      Kind regards, Ketsanee Seehamongkol

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