Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring it is, but Flame Tree it isn't

Since Shenzhen is so far south we don't get much sense of the changing seasons here. The trees stay green all year round and the sky is the same shade of dingy grey almost every day. (A friend was telling me that when they analyzed the air quality here, they discovered that 50% of the pollution is actually dust from all the endless construction.Not surprising really, though I'd never considered that.)

So when I saw this pretty flower lying on the sidewalk I felt like maybe it was spring after all. I'm not sure what variety it is, though the same friend suggested perhaps it was Flame Tree. After a cursory google image search, I concluded that it is not. Steve, if you are still reading this, do you care to do another plant identification?

One thing I've noticed about tropical plants is their remarkable sturdiness. They are tough creatures meant to survive brutal conditions. For example, there is a giant palm tree just outside our bedroom window. When I crack the window for a breeze this fellow inserts himself quite handily. Getting him out again is no small task and sometimes I accidentally close some of his leaves in the window when I shut it again. When I come back to open it days later, the leaves remain totally intact, still green, still growing, just a little crumpled. Now that is resiliency! I'm trying to remember that example when I'm feeling a panic attack approaching in the grocery store or subway;I will emerge eventually, a little rumpled maybe, but still going.


Steve said...

It took like a half hour while I was eating my lunch but I think I stumbled upon a winner. Google-search plant-identification is a fun skill that combines botanical family knowledge, geographical information, and creative search terms. My botanical knowledge kept coming up with cotton family, but I couldn't find it until I searched this 'tropical flowering trees asia showy orange flower' and looked at pictures of trees that grow in Shenzhen's climate.

I am going with this:

Red silk-cotton tree
Bombax ceiba
Bombacaeae (Bombax family)
Also known as Malvaceae (cotton family, hence cotton tree)
India, South China, SE Asia

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring (Jan-March)

From Wikipedia:

In Chinese they are known as Mumian (Chinese: 木棉; pinyin: mùmián), meaning "tree cotton".

Happy Spring!

Miss B said...

Thank you Steve! You are the best botanist ever. I think I need to learns some basic google search plant id skills so I can do this too! There are so many wild things here that I can't quite place...like giant trees with air roots. Fun fun fun.

Anonymous said...

Kapok tree Becky. Kapok is the city tree of Canton. Fluffy cotton used for stuffing matresses. Everything Steve says is also true.Chinese name is also the name of Cotton Tree Rd in Hong Kong.

Miss B said...

Hooray! Kapok tree AKA Bombax ceiba it is. I'll try to get a shot of the full tree posted soon. Thank you!

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