Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pink Morning Glory

Some people have asked me what method I use for identifying plants. Well, in the good old days one would turn to a botanical key, but nowadays I find it much easier to search through Google images unti I find the plant or flower I am looking for. First I type a few keywords that best describe the plant (colour, shape or region where it might grow), then click on the “Images” tab. This brings up a large number of pictures that might correspond to the given keywords and a few of them could lead directly to the jackpot.  … Continue reading

Indian Lotus on Dapo Lake

We came across this lovely scene last weekend near the town of Chishang (池上) in Taitung County, southern Taiwan. Much of the small lake, which goes under the name of Dapo, was covered by a large colony of blooming Indian lotus flowers (Nelumbo nucifera). Despite its common name, this is a plant native to Taiwan, as well as many tropical regions of Australasia, all the way south to Queensland. The large pink flowers combined with even larger round leaves were a sight to behold, especially when pictured with the rising mountains in the northwest. It was a hot… Continue reading

Night-Blooming Jessamine

A rather ordinary plant, the night-blooming jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum) is widely cultivated in southern Taiwan. I always wondered what makes it so popular until I saw it (and  especially smelt it!) under a moonlight. Its thousands of small white flowers gave an eerie feeling of fluorescence while the blossom’s strong sweet scent further enhanced the pleasure of alighting upon this spectacular specimen of the tropics. The most unusual thing about the species is the fact that it releases the perfume only at night, obviously preferring to attract nocturnal insects while relying on visual allure during day time.… Continue reading

Introducing Breadfruit

Once upon a time breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) was the staple diet of many island nations in Polynesia and other parts of the vast South Pacific region. There was even a saying in Tahiti that the very first thing one should do after building a house is to plant a breadfruit tree (or an “uru” as they call it in that part of the world) – that way there will always be food to put on the table. This strong, stately tree can reach over 25 metres in height and the largest specimen may produce as many as 200… Continue reading

The Magnificent Papaya

If you had to pick a tree that best represented the tropics, which one would it be? While there are a number of candidates for the likely symbol of the hot and humid regions, I would probably rate the papaya tree (Carica papaya) near the top. Its long branches stretching horizontally from the crown, the large green to yellow fruits hanging down graciously from the trunk, and the distinctive shape of their leaves give an unusual impression that will enthuse any nature-conscious visitor of the warm climates. This is a tree that is as common and widespread… Continue reading