- Species: Hoop Pine, Bald Cypress, Queensland Kauri/Dammar Pine, Fake Olive, Kassod Tree, Pincushion Tree, Chaulmoogra Tree, Cinnamon Camphor
- Old and valuable tree of Hong Kong listings: Hoop Pine LCSD CW/51, Bald Cypress LCSD CW/50, Queensland Kauri/Dammar Pine LCSD CW/49, Fake Olive LCSD CW/52, Kassod Tree ARCHSD CW/30, Pincushion Tree LCSD CW/48, Chaulmoogra Tree LCSD CW/46, Cinnamon Camphor
- Location: Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
If you ever get a chance, you really have to visit the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens nestled just above Central between the former Governor’s House and Caine Road, and Mid-levels.
There are, as you can expect, many trees and yes, also animals, in cages sadly, but that is the nature of zoos. Do visit the primate section, which features many adorable and exotic species, such as Ring-tailed Lemurs, Two-toed Sloths, De Brazza’s Monkey and Chimp-like Siamang, which if you are really lucky, might do a break dance routine of spinning on the floor.
The primates are well worth the visit on their own, but don’t forget to look out for the octopus in the middle of their compounds. If you look beyond their enclosures, in the middle is a magnificent eight-limbed Cinnamon Camphor (cinnamomum camphora 樟) sprouting out from the ground like Leviathan rising.
It’s difficult to get close because the octopus Camphor rests inside the working area of the gardens so off limits to visitors like us, but that only adds to its splendor, and mystery.
But that’s not all this section of the gardens have to offer. Now check out the Octopus’ friends – five, yes no less than five, ‘Old and valuable’ trees of Hong Kong growing in the immediate vicinity.
There is the massive Hoop Pine (araucaria cunninghamii 花旗杉) at one corner, towering into the sky.
Down the path is the Bald Cypress (taxodium distichum 落羽松), which ironically sports a massive crown.
Just behind and above, because the Queensland Kauri, or Dammar Pine (agathis dammara 貝殼杉), is massive. It’s over 100 years old and is 24 metres tall.
Now head back around to the opposite end of the square section to find the Fake Olive tree (elaeodendron orientale 福木) jaunting out through the overhanging fence.
You are not done yet. Now turn around and look for a path that descends to another path. Turn right and look up and you will come to the fifth member of the entourage, a massive Kassod Tree (senna siamea 鐵刀木) with a thick dark trunk supporting a wide crown of delicate leaves.
Since you are already here, why not go for broke and visit a couple more distinguished trees. Head along the path up the hill and you should find this Pincushion Tree (nauclea orientalis 東方烏檀), now – end May – fruiting.
For one last adventure, continue heading uphill along the path next to the street and you will come to yet another exotic tree species, this time a Chaulmongra Tree (hydnocarpus anthelminthica 泰國大風子).
There is another Old and valuable tree just pass the Chaulmoogra, but I missed it on this visit. I will try to add it in next time I visit.
And that is just one side of the Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens. If it’s not too hot out, simply cross Albany Road, or take the tunnel, to the other side of the Gardens, which also houses many magnificent specimens, including the Mock Bodh Tree, and many others, but that’s another story for another day.