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Other contributions to the photo contest 4.

August 14, 2010

The scientific genus ‘Melastoma‘ sounds very cryptic and academic, but translated from Latinized Greek it means ‘black mouth’. The scientists have acknowledged the wisdom of children, based on the fact that Thai children like to eat the black fruits, and then run around and show each other their black mouths. It looks very much like a South American Tibouchina, but they have dry fruits. The flowers and even the foliage of a Melastoma may also resemble a Rhododendron, which is why Chiang Mai gardeners like to plant it. Rhododendron is normally quite difficult to grow here in the valley, while several species grow wild above the pine belt (1200 m). Melastoma malabathricum, as depicted below by Don Rumsey who took the picture at Dokmai Garden, grows wild in the nearby forests. It should not dry out in the dry season, and leaf eating beetles tend to like it.

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