Harvesting and cooking the Midnight Horror
Many visitors to Dokmai Garden describe a weird fruit they have seen in the Chiang Mai food markets. It looks like a flat sabre. Even ethnobotanists get confused. Luckily the tree producing these fruits grows at Dokmai Garden.
This is the fruit of the ‘Midnight Horror’ (Oroxylum indicum, Bignoniaceae). It is such a characteristic of the markets and the monsoon landscape here in northern Thailand that I included it in my book on fruits and vegetables.
You can only admire its large fleshy and smelly flowers now in the rainy season. In the dry season all the leaves are shed and the tree looks dead beyond resurrection. In fact, the pile of leaf petioles (the leaf stalks) around the naked stem resemble human bones so much a visitor asked if we were cannibals.
The result of the nectar bats’ pollination at night is a bitter fruit highly appreciated by the Thais.
The Thai name ‘lin fa’ translates into ‘sky tongue’ which is quite romantic.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell