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The Pride of Lanna

January 17, 2011

Anyone going to the national parks surrounding Chiang Mai in northern Thailand will currently see mountain sides with patches of pink or violet. This is a true native to this part of the world, Congea tomentosa. This liana is often grown in the Chiang Mai gardens, becoming a local characteristic different from all the South American lilavadees (Plumeria spp) and Bougainvilleas which make our town look more like Brazil.

Formerly a member of the verbena family (Verbenaceae) it is now included in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It has pink or violet (sometimes white) bracts surrounding the tiny flowers. If you plant it in your garden, let it trail up a tree or onto a wall to be admired from a distance. The liana itself is quite untidy when not in blossom, so it should not be planted where you walk all the time. Do not water it heavily, simply let it be alone. It comes from here, so watering it all year round may cause rot.

One vernacular name is ‘Shower of orchids’, which is a catchy trade name, but since it has nothing to do with orchids, the name may trick people. ‘Wooly congea’ is another name which in my opinion is created by somebody romantic as a stone. This is truly one of my favourite plants, a darling, so it deserves a beautiful name. How about Pride of Lanna? Lanna is the old Kingdom of northern Thailand, with its capital Chiang Mai founded by King Mangrai in 1296.

Eric Danell

The pride of Lanna, Congea tomentosa, as seen at Dokmai Garden’s entrance.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2012 10:04 PM

    Just found your wonderful blog and am looking forward to following you and learning alot about tropical plants!

    • September 23, 2012 7:42 AM

      Thank you! Most welcome to share thoughts, questions and discoveries.

      Cheers, Eric

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