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Happy New Year with the novel app Curio-xyz for trees!

January 3, 2018

Dear friends of Thai flora,

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog for Dokmai Dogma. I am busy teaching dendrology, tree physiology and tree pathology at our arborist classes at Sweden’s largest gardening school Hvilan Utbildning. Meanwhile I get reports from our beloved Dokmai Garden. Little seedlings have grown into big trees with flowers and fruits. Apparently the native red kapok trees (Bombax ceiba) have flowered, and also the peculiar South American Cannon Ball Tree (Couroupita guianensis).

Last year, a new app, Curio-xyz, was launched which I believe will be a valuable tool for monitoring and teaching about trees. The app pinpoints your location, and shows a Google satellite image of your surroundings. If somebody has done the job, there will be coloured dots on the trees nearby your position. Click such a dot, and the name of the tree will appear, sometimes even with photographs and stories. The app is free and adapted to cell phone and web. I have introduced this app as a tool when we teach dendrology and tagged over 800 trees and shrubs in our Swedish school garden. The nearby Swedish university arboretum SLU Alnarp has registered thousands of trees and shrubs with Curio-xyz, and the nearby city Malmö has registered about 100 000 thousand street trees. If you think that is impressive, check out New York, more than 600 000 trees registered!

Are there any trees tagged in Thailand? Yes, the first native Thai tree ever tagged with Curio-xyz, and one of the first in Asia at all, was Dokmai Garden’s giant forest mango (Mangifera caloneura). I could comfortably tag it sitting at my desk at my office here in Sweden. Looking at Dokmai Garden from space makes my heart beat, and I recognize many individual trees, close friends of mine. However, to make sure my memory does not fail me I need to return to the spot and make sure the position of every tree is correct. After all, Dokmai Garden contains over 1100 different plant species, and one can only tag larger shrubs and trees.

The biggest obstacle at the moment for the Thai tree lover is the database. You can not just write a scientific name, you need to select from a list to avoid an accumulation of misspelt names. The list for the northern temperate region is rapidly expanding, even containing cultivar names, but for the tropics the Irish group behind Curio-xyz is negotiating to use a reliable database with accurate and modern scientific names.

Meanwhile, as you can see if you search for Chiang Mai and select Hang Dong district, you will see a restricted number of tree species at Dokmai Garden which I recently added to the database. The inventors of this app are keen to serve the user and reply pretty fast to comments and suggestions, so try their chat service!

Being a novel technique, Curio-xyz is still under development. A drawback is that the Google satellite images are old, and they are taken at a time when the sky is clear, i.e. the dry season when monsoon trees such as teak have shed their leaves, making such trees somewhat difficult to distinguish. It should also be emphasized that the images are useful for parks, gardens and streets, while the canopy cover in a forest makes tagging of individual trees difficult.

Why would you need a name of a tree? Once you have the name, you can google anything you want to know about the tree, from tree care and diseases to anecdotes and ethnobotany. Before you have the international scientific name, the tree remains a mystery or a source of confusion and misunderstandings.

With Curio-xyz, I believe amateur gardeners will learn a lot about trees, and purchase new exciting trees, and professional arborists and park managers can keep track of their gardens, parks and streets, and easily involve new staff without spending years showing around.

When iTree is fully incorporated with Curio-xyz, and adapted to different climates and tree species of our planet, a user can calculate the value of individual trees, and even design a future tree planting to optimise the ecosystem services in a neighbourhood.

For Thailand, the tourist from overseas can finally get the names already at the resort garden, quenching a thirst for a deeper knowledge of this beautiful country.

Happy New Year 2018!

Eric Danell



5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nora Teresa Orito permalink
    January 3, 2018 6:15 AM

    Thanks for the info! Happy New Year to you and your family!

  2. Vasin permalink
    January 3, 2018 7:57 AM

    Hi Eric,

    Happy New Year to you and your family too. Many thanks for introducing curio-xyz app to us. Just explored it and found it was a useful tool for all plant-lovers.

    I’m now in Chiangmai. This winter in Chiangmai seems shorter than expected, just a couple of days that temperature fall below 10 C, average is 18 C. How about Sweden’s weather now ?

    Do you still have people to maintain Dokmai garden ? Hope all trees are in good health and grow up after my nearly 5 years last visit. Your orchid ark probably full of flowers now, isn’t it ?

    Best Regards, Vasin T.


    • January 3, 2018 11:31 AM

      Dear Vasin, yes the gardeners do a great job although the garden is closed to the public. They focus on the most interesting plants which are indigenous, yes many are orchids. Cheers, Eric

  3. January 3, 2018 9:04 AM

    Happy New Year Eric and your family.
    Sounds very interesting will check out the app.
    Any idea how your Olea europea is at Dokmai

    • January 3, 2018 11:25 AM

      Thanks Paul. Strict Mediterranean plants such as olive were dead within a year after my departure. They need careful care in an exotic climate, but Thai monsoon plants are thriving. Cheers, Eric

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