A white shade of the golden shower
Right now there is a peculiar sapling in blossom at the Dokmai Garden parking. It resembles a young golden shower (Cassia fistula, Fabaceae), but the buds are moonlight yellow and the flowers are white. Apparently there is a similar tree at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami, Florida. That specimen is believed to be a hybrid between Cassia javanica and Cassia fistula. There are different clones of such hybrids and one is Cassia x nealiae from Hawaii, but that clone is snow white. We got our specimen from a graduate of Kasetsart University in Bangkok, but she did not know its name, if there is any.
Many hybrids (crosses between species, like a mule) are sterile and the absence of pods may in some garden situations be an advantage. If you are into medicinal plants, you should grow a fertile golden shower, because the pulp of the black pods is a powerful laxative, counteracting constipation caused by over consumption of sticky rice.
The tree demands full sun and will be stunted for years if planted in part shade. This year’s blossom is just a teaser. With age it will be a spectacular sight!
Text & Photo: Eric Danell