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Are you sure you have seen Petrea’s blossom?

March 18, 2011

The Petrea volubilis (Verbenaceae) from central America is a popular garden ornamental in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It is said to bloom for a long time, but in fact the flowers are quite ephemeral. What we usually admire is the blue calyx, i.e. the leaves surrounding the flower. Take a look at the picture below, and you will see the flowers and the calyx.

The violet petrea flower is surrounded by a heavenly blue calyx, which stays a long time on the plant. The sandpapery leaves can be used as fine sand paper or nail files. In early March you can admire their blossom at Dokmai Garden.

As to weather: during the last few days of unusual rains (March 15-17) we received a total of 52 mm rain. It has also been unusually cold, around 16°C. Yesterday’s garden tour with nine excited Singaporeans went well, Mae Khanin Tai was more beautiful than ever. How this weather will affect the flora will be most interesting to see. I noticed the Cheilocostus is already making leaves, and there could be an unusually early flush of mushrooms.  We’ll see. This morning I get up at 04 am to pick up Tony Ball at 05 and then head south towards Doi Inthanon mountain with some brave bird watchers. We keep you posted about our findings. Life is good!

Eric Danell

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