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The lacquer tree is in blossom

December 1, 2011

The lacquer tree (Gluta usitata, Anacardiaceae) is native to the dry jungles surrounding Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The lacquer is simply the irritating sap protecting the tree from damage. Traditionally this sap has been used to cover baskets made of bamboo and pony hair to make them water and insect proof. Over the millenia elaborate designs developed and the rare Chiang Mai design can sometimes be found in antique stores in the nearby Ban Tawai. The use of real lacquer has been abandoned and today people use artificial lacquers which are less poisonous to the skin. Lacquer is different from lac which I described in a previous blog. The lacquer tree is now in blossom:

Photo: Mark Marples

If you visit Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai you can see this beautiful betel box. On top is a lacquer leaf and some lacquer fruits. Photo: Eric Danell

Text: Eric Danell

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 10:36 AM

    This is the highly fragrant tree that one smells so strongly at nights at the moment??

    • December 2, 2011 7:19 PM

      Dear Marike,

      Please compare your flower with the picture on the blog. Cheers, Eric.

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