Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giant trees of Ho Chi Minh City

I was away in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a week to attend M’s wedding and also for a short holiday. This is my second time here after more than two years.


Here is an view of the city from the rooftop of my hotel room. Very cluttered, disorderly but that is what I love about this place. Singapore is too orderly that it is boring in comparison to this place. =.=

How about the city’s greenery?


I doubt tourist pay any attention to the roadside streets here. But I was already anticipating the large dipterocarp trees which I read about in Dr Francis Ng’s blog. He estimated the trees to be 80 to 100 years old and planted during the French colonial days!


Many parts of the city were lined with huge dipterocarp trees! For those who do not know what are dipterocarps, they are big forest trees belonging to the family Dipterocarpaceae and highly valued for their timber (commonly called meranti). Also characteristic of this family are their shuttle-cock like fruits that will spin in the air.


It was quite common to see trees with trunks of 1 or 2 metres in diameter and growing more than 20 metres tall.


Two of the most common species are probably Dipterocarpus alatus and Hopea odorata. Above is a D. alatus tree at the reunification palace.


We can’t have picked a better time to come as it was dry season now and it means masting time for the trees! Can you see the young brownish fruits?


It is pretty fascinating to see the road littered with the fruits!


Here is the close up of the D. alatus fruit.


Look at the crazy mass fruiting of Hopea odorata~


And also some fruits on the pathway.


While Vietnam have amazing big mature forest trees, they certainly does not have as much green spaces as Singapore. Every park here are greatly valued and visited by many people, even during the weekdays. For example, my Vietnamese friend told me that this dipterocarp filled park is frequented by university students.

The most common dipterocarp that is planted in Singapore is probably Hopea odorata, but they are all still very young in comparison to the ones here. It will be pretty exciting once they reach to the same height and girth as what we saw here in Ho Chi Minh and start fruiting.

Watch out for more posts of the vegetation in Vietnam~

Related posts:

1) Some city biodiversity in Saigon
2) Tree climbers in Ho Chi Minh City


Maggy Wassilieff said...

Hi Siyang,
I've just returned from HCM city and couldn't locate any identification guides to the plants in and around the city. This is such a pity, especially for visitors like me, who are only familiar with temperate trees.
i reckon there's a market out there for someone to produce a guide to the common trees and flowers of urban SE Asia.

ts said...

Hi Maggy,

Yea, I did not come across such guides in Vietnam too.

There are a few guides out there now but the diversity is just to big to cover every species unfortunately. >.<

Cheap Flights to Ho Chi Minh City said...

I have never been missing... I have always known where I have been...

Jean said...

Many Dipterocarpaceae species are endangered and ex-situ conservation in urbanized areas is needed since there are not enough lowland forest reserves left for their long term protection.
I would be very grateful if you could map the pictured dipterocarpaceae on a free and collaborative wiki for tree naming and mapping. This is a very good example on how well local tree can do. You may add a link to your blog for each tree position.

ts said...

Hi Jean,

Thats an interesting project! Hmm, however, I don't think I could remember where exactly each of them are at now though, since I don't live there.

All the best in ur project though. :)

Unknown said...

Hello,I come to HCMC and other parts of VN often and would love to contribute. I tried registering but never received a confirming email. I am towards the end of my 3 weeks. If you contact me with I will gladly map a bunch of the trees but there has to be 1000s of them here.

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