The highest mountain in Thailand is Doi Inthanon, 2565 m. It is named after one of the last kings of Lanna, a kingdom which merged with Siam in 1899. The mountain was renamed from Doi Luang or Doi ang ka, to Doi Inthanon after the king Inthanon’s death in 1897.
The national park covers 482 square kilometres, and many vegetation zones, from the dry savannah-like lowlands to evergreen forests, pine belts and high elevation forest with Engelhardtia (Juglandaceae) and Rhododendron arboreum (tree rhododendron). Wild orchids and hoyas can be found in great numbers. Remember, in Thailand we do not have rainforests, but real jungles (monsoon forests).
Since the checkpoint of the national park is situated only 50 km from Dokmai Garden, we made an excursion as a part of our Tropical Gardening School. To understand how to care for garden plants, it is essential to study the plants in their natural environments. On our excursion with American gardening students Elizabeth Omeara and Dylan Beach we paid extra attention to epiphytic orchids, as we had two Dutch specialists with us, Corien and Folbert Bronsema.
The rhododendrons were in majestic blossom, and so were many orchids, such as Coelogyne nitida, Dendrobium heterocarpum and the large white Dendrobium infundibulum, which also grows on sandy slopes directly on the ground.
Although normally this is the peak season for tourists on Doi Inthanon, there were not many people around. The entrance fee has been lowered to 200 Baht for foreign tourists (40 baht for Thais), but what the tourists need is a peaceful country.
Most welcome to Dokmai Garden to see some of our orchids, or to join our garden tour or gardening school. We can also tailor-make a tour for you to Doi Inthanon.
Ketsanee Seehamongkol and Eric Danell
Coelogyne nitida (Orchidaceae) is one of many wild orchids in blossom on Doi Inthanon.