- Specie: Big-Leaved Fig (ficus vivens)
- Old and valuable tree of Hong Kong list: LCSD CW/7
- Location: Pok Fu Lam Road at the entrance of Pok Fu Lam Road Playground
There is a huge tree at the end of a hidden path that is definitely worth the trek, for all the right reasons. You not only get to discover a quiet, secluded trail with lots of shade, quaint rest areas and vistas of HKU, but at the end, you get to meet a massive Big-Leaved Fig tree.
The most famous mountain in Hong Kong is Victoria Peak, which serves as a symbol of the city’s pride. At one time, there was even a law that said no one can build a building that appears taller than Victoria Peak for someone standing on the Kowloon side and looking across the harbour. I think they made an exception with the International Finance Centre, but as far as I know, it is still a law.
To make a story short(er), there is more than one mountain in Hong Kong. On the western side of the entire range that forms Hong Kong Island is Lung Fu Shan, literally Dragon Tiger Mountain. It starts from the end of Conduit Road and spans all the way to Pok Fu Lam. There is a main path called the “Morning Trail” – basically Hatton Road, which leads up to Lugard Road that circles the Peak. But if you want to avoid the crowds (especially on weekends), but still want to get your 10,000 daily steps in, you can check out Pik Shan Path, a quiet, less travelled and well hidden trial that skirts Lung Fu Shan on the western slope, above the University of Hong Kong campus and towards the South.
To get there from the end of Conduit Road, you need to skip the steep ramp up to Hatton Road/Morning Trail and continue along the slight incline to Kotewall Road (keep an eye out for the Austin Martin parking sign to your left while you follow this path). After about 100 metres or so, you should see a public toilet. Just a few metres beyond that, there are some stairs, half hidden, that leads down the Lung Fu Shan Bio-diversity Research Centre on the right, and the start of Pik Shan Path to the left.
Originally, you can take Pik Shan Path all the way to the University Pathology Building, just before you get to Queen Mary Hospital. But due to some construction, the path ends just above Pok Fu Lam road, forcing you to descend down a long flight of stairs to the Pok Fu Lam Road Playground.
There you will come face-to-face with a massive Big-Leaved Fig tree, with roots that seem to be grabbing onto the sidewalk like dragon’s claws.
The tree, in June, is magnificent, with a full crowd of dense foliage, contrasted by its thick, twisting branches. It’s no surprise that it is a member of the venerable list of ‘Old and valuable’ tress of Hong Kong (LSCD CW/7). The tree has many distinguishing features, like its five massive limbs that spread out above its main trunk.
For me however, it was the roots that gave this tree its character. Despite being on a narrow strip of sidewalk, the roots embraced its restrictions, twisting and clawing around the concrete walls, no doubt reaching deep underground for the sustenance it needs to support its massive form.