Malabar Chestnut – the Money Tree

In Taiwan money grows on trees. Perhaps not in the literal sense, but many inhabitants of the island believe and hope that the Malabar chestnut (Pachira aquatica), a symbol of prosperity and financial well-being, will provide them with wealth and economic fortunes they desire. Even though the tree is now commonly associated with feng-shui, a concept that is thousands of years old, the Malabar chestnut has only entered the teachings in the late nineties. In fact, the tree is not even native to Taiwan (or Asia for that matter); it comes from Central and South America where it… 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

Flame of the Forest

Delonix regia has a number of common names, including Flamboyant Tree, Flame of the Forest or Royal Poinciana. It seems to originate from Madagascar, but because of its striking red flowers, it has been planted in many tropical regions around the world. On top of its ornamental value, it is an excellent tree to provide shade on hot days as its branches tend to spread to the sides (it has a hemispherical crown) and its foliage is also quite dense. It’s a deciduous tree that flowers once a year. There are several cultivated variaties with the colour of the flowers… Continue reading