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The candle vine

April 19, 2012

Yesterday I treated ‘sweet dreams’ or Tetracera indica. Today I reveal its sister, the ‘candle vine’ (Tetracera loureiri, Dilleniaceae). It has darker green leaves and purely white flowers, but most importantly the fragrance is very different, sweet in ‘sweet dreams’, candle-like (stearin) in ‘candle vine’. This is a rare example of a local Thai species being an appreciated ornamental in temple and palace gardens. This is probably due to its white colour, the symbol of purity.

Being native to southern Southeast Asia including southern Thailand it should not be left without water during the drought in Chiang Mai during March-April. Otherwise it is an easy-going plant which is highly recommended for giving a local touch to your Southeast Asian garden (many South American visitors claim that Chiang Mai looks like home, due to the abundance of South American ornamentals).

Just like with Tetracera indica, the fragrance can be overwhelming and the plant should not be planted near a dining table or bedroom. Better select an arbour in a corner of the garden you like to visit. Another overpowering odour right now is the one from the tropical cranberry.

Judging from the abundance of flowering buds the coming few days will be spectacular at Dokmai Garden.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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