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A book review

May 29, 2011

Title: ‘A Preliminary Checklist of Threatened Plants in Thailand‘ published by the Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok, Thailand (2005). 196 pages, partly illustrated with colour thumbnails.

Although this book is six years old now, it gives the amateur botanist a fair view about special plants demanding special attention and reports. For instance, I have many times passed a local tree (Stereospermum neuranthum, Bignoniaceae) when dog walking, never realizing it is so rare. This is good to know, since most new land owners wipe out everything alive and then plant some South American ornamentals. I can alert a new landowner and educated people are usually proud to host rare plants. Since this tree has a reputation for its strong wood, it is certainly living dangerously. The flower of this tree is indeed ornamental, a trumpet with brown stripes, but only if you look out for it in May and June. During the upcoming cool season I shall make sure to collect many seeds for Dokmai Garden!

Other threatened plants which we already keep at Dokmai Garden are for instance Bauhinia aureifolia, Bauhinia strychnifolia, Afgekia mahidoliae, Afgekia sericea, Tacca chantrieri, Aquilaria crassna, Pterospermum grandiflorum, Kopsia arborea, Pauldopia ghorta, Uvaria grandiflora var. flava, Mitrephora tomentosa and of course many orchids.

The book covers 1131 threatened plant species which equals about 10% of all plants in Thailand. The trend is continuous destruction of national parks to build mega projects, resorts and to illegally obtain timber. Wildfires and theft of orchids are also problems, so the next revised check-list will probably include more threatened species and also extinct species.

Anyone interested in the original Thai flora should order a copy from Bangkok, so that you can collect seeds and thereby preserve threatened species in your garden. Although decades from now, there will be a day when a majority of the Thai people will accuse today’s ignorant generations for the annihilation of the Thai heritage.

Ketsanee Seehamongkol & Eric Danell

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