Sparkling jungle blossom
Frequently I encourage visitors to send us pictures of plants they stumble across in the Southeast Asian monsoon forests. Thereby we may learn more about habitat and range of rare species. The pictures below come from the Pa Suam waterfalls, Bolaven Plateau, Laos, but what are these flower miracles?
These plastic flowers are cunningly attached high up in trees at a distance to satisfy an innocent tourist’s expectations of a jungle.
Of a regular 1500-2000 Baht tour anywhere in Southeast Asia, roughly 500-700 Baht is commission to the taxi driver or hotel clerk who picks up the phone and makes a reservation. For so much money the tourist wants value. Since the majority of tourists come to Southeast Asia in November and December, a time when many native plants are dormant, desperate owners of hotels and mass tourism venues do their best to upgrade nature. Sensibility is not a characteristic of the tourism industry.
However, using fake flowers is only one step worse than decorating a forest with exotic garden plants such as plethoric orchid hybrids. We are therefore very much looking forward to Rik Gadella’s botanical garden project in Luang Prabang, Laos. Teaching people that plants are so much more than brilliant colours and that forests should have mammals and wild orchids in addition to trees is a hard and ungrateful task, yet important, or our forests will evidently turn plastic.
Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden