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A flower with the fragrance of Hungarian Pick salami

April 10, 2011

Traditionally near temples, you would see Wrightia religiosa (Apocynaceae). The monks claim it has no real religious importance, other than being white (a symbol of purity and Buddhism). It is often used as a hedge in private gardens, and provides lovely buds and blossom. During the cold season it may look a bit ‘cold’, i.e. shed the leaves like a European deciduous plant.

As with so many other white flowers, these flowers are equipped with a strong fragrance, two adaptations to night pollinators. In this case, and in my brain, the fragrance is quite similar to Hungarian Pick salami. The fragrance makes me home-sick for Europe. It is often planted at Thai shopping malls, which is clever. A hungry customer buys more. This peculiar fragrance appears to be an adaptation to special flies.

The plant is native to Southeast Asia and may after a long time grow into a small tree (5 m). It seems to require extra nutrient additions or the leaves will turn yellow, so some cow manure at the beginning of the rainy season would be appreciated.

Eric Danell

Wrightia religiosa, now in blossom at Dokmai Garden.

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