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It is getting hot

March 5, 2012

Do not forget to sign-up for Saturday’s bee demonstration!

Yesterday the afternoon temperature was 34.2 °C. Here in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand the hot season begins in mid February when the afternoon temperatures surpass 32 °C. Night temperatures are perfect, although grandma Nived put on a sweater for grandchild Mika when the temperature dropped to 26.6°C. The bird chorus at night is impressive and at daytime we admire the fluffy pink clouds of the pink shower tree (Cassia bakeriana, Fabaceae).

Yesterday Dokmai Garden received another group of enthusiastic Nordic tourists (TEMA resor). Unfortunately this was the last one in a while since the tourist season is deemed ‘over’ by the experts. I regret that, since the flora becomes more spectacular for every day now, and later in the green season May-October you can enjoy a fresh landscape with gingers, mushrooms and butterflies. Many of the guide books are responsible for declaring when the best time is to come, but that depends on what you like. If you love heat and plants like me, and if you want to stay away from crowds and save money, this is a good time. The guidebooks describe the current haze due to the man-made forest fires as a problem, and it is for locals who must live with it forever, but it is hardly a problem for a short-term visitor. I am more concerned about the fires’ destructive impact on flora and wildlife than on the impact on my own health.

March is the time for many Dendrobium orchid blossom, and also for many wild members of the lilavadee (Apocynaceae) family such as Holarrhena. A new blossom of this family at Dokmai Garden is a plant I have identified as Strophanthus perakensis. The Flora of Thailand key on this family is most pedagogic and handy, but since this is presumably quite a rare plant, fruits are undescribed and pictures scarce. I ask our readers if they agree or disagree with my ID?

Dokmai Gardens, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Photo: Allen Todd, Oregon (May 5th, 2013, unusually late in the season, this is a second flush of blossom).

Scrambly woody growth, opposite leaves with a milky latex, no punctuation beneath the leaves, no spines, corolla lobes overlap to the right in the bud, corona present as in the picture, no long corolla lobes as in the other two native Strophanthus species. The diameter of the flower is around 6 cm. The plant should be grown in full sun. It should be considered very poisonous. New English name: Hydra’s Hug.

Strophanthus perakensis immature fruit.May5.2013.72

Update may 5th, 2013: an emerging fruit as a result of my cross pollination by hand. The shape of the twin fruit is typical of many Apocynaceae, but I had expected a much longer and pointed fruit. Whether or not this is a normal fruit remains to find out by following it until maturity, and by observing other fruits during the coming years.

Eric Danell

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 1:43 PM

    Its flowering time for my favourite understorey shrub the Clerodendrum and I have 4 plants in pots which I propagated from root shoots at Dok Mai Garden.

    Let’s have some pics to encourage people to grow and conserve this genus.

    • March 6, 2012 8:47 AM

      Yes, I could easy become a Clerodendrum collector too. They are very interesting.

      Cheers, Eric

  2. Dan Kerr permalink
    March 5, 2012 1:44 PM

    Whatever you call it; I want it.
    Don’t think it would like N.W. USA climate though.

  3. William Thornton, Korat permalink
    October 12, 2013 7:15 PM

    I seea lot of hits in Google Images for a similar flower called Stophranthus Caudatus. Where did you get the species name perakensis and does it differ from Caudatus?

  4. October 14, 2013 6:09 PM

    Dear William,

    According to Flora of China Strophanthus caudatus should have corolla lobes with pendulent tails, 4-25 cm long ( ‘Cauda’ is Latin for ‘tail’.

    This flower does not have a tail. Originally I used Flora of Thailand to identify this species but since I am currently in Sweden and disconnected from my tropical library I can not check the ID right now. Please keep me informed about your ID efforts because we are eager to make revisions to offer accurate information.

    Kind regards, Eric

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