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Are there any Thai Clematis?

November 4, 2010

In Europe the gardeners adore the Clematis genus. Most species of this genus of climbers are native to the south of Europe and temperate Asia, but there are many fascinating species also from North America.

What about Thailand and the Chiang Mai region which is tropical? Indeed, when I walked down from the peak Doi Pui/Doi Suthep (the mountain hovering over the Chiang Mai city) I saw a lovely indigenous Clematis at about 1500 meters elevation. Smitinand’s list of Thai vascular plants cover ten species indigenous to Thailand, of which Clematis smilacifolia (Khruea chang luang) is perhaps the most ornamental. I have seen it for sale recently at the Khamtieng flower market for only 100 Baht a piece, and at Dokmai garden we keep one specimen. The flowers of this indigenous liana are unusual, almost black and white. It is native from Nepal to New Guinea. It may suffer in the Chiang Mai valley if placed in an open hot and dry area. At Dokmai Garden it faces north, and has a wall to the south. Its neighbours are large climbers too, providing shade for the precious roots. If you plant it at the base of a tree, it may disappear high above your head. Planting it by an arbour is better if you wish to admire the blossom. It will soon make flowers, a treasure of the cool season which arrived lately with 14-17 degrees in the nights.

Eric Danell

Clematis smilacifolia from Dokmai Garden

One Comment leave one →
  1. tomo permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:36 PM

    what a legal clematis! contrasting to our native clematis, so modest and dainty.

    Here’s what we’ve got:

    Clematis columbiana


    Clematis hirsutissima var. hirsutissima


    Clematis lingusticifolia

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