- Specie: Lemon-scented Gum
- Old and valuable tree of Hong Kong listing: LCSD CW/118
- Location, Kennedy Road, at the intersection of Borrett Road
Kennedy Road, which starts in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels district from Garden Road and meanders eastward, first above the hill from Hong Kong Park, then above parts of Wanchai, before descending slowly towards the level ground of Queen’s Road East, isn’t known as a pedestrian route.
As the main, and only, alternative route between Mid-levels and the popular shopping and entertainment district of Causeway Bay, Kennedy Road is often frequented by cars, but it’s not exactly easy to get to for pedestrians. You either have to come up from Central or Admiralty (a 20-30min walk up Cottontree Drive or through Hong Kong Park), or come down from Macdonnell Road or Bowen Road (easy descend but you have to get up there first), to arrive at a road that doesn’t really have much to offer, except of course, for some remarkable trees.
One such example is a towering ‘Old and valuable tree’ of Hong Kong located precisely opposite the intersection of Kennedy Road and Borrett Road. It is I believed the only Lemon-scented Gum (eucalyptus citriodora) on the list of venerable trees on Hong Kong government’s preservation list.
The tree’s main trunk’s considerable girth occupies most of the albeit narrow sidewalk. Customary of the Eucalyptus genus, the trunk near the ground features flaking brown bark but higher up, the trunk is encrusted with a limestone grey skin that resembles painted plaster.
It’s crown starts more than half the way up its trunk, which goes to accentuate its height. Nevertheless, the foliage is still quite beautiful, spreading out symmetrically in a circle over the straight and narrow central core.
If you have made the effort to get to this tree, you might notice that this area is home to a number of Lemon-scented Gum trees. There are at least three about 50 metres West of this Old and valuable tree on Kennedy Road. There is another, similarly tall individual, further to the East on the other side of the petrol station.
Lemon-scented Gum trees are also known as Lemon Eucalyptus, Blue-spotted Gum and Eucalyptus Citriodora and are native to Southern Australia. There is a reason why the tree’s name references lemons. That’s because its leaves smells like lemons, and all the essential oils that the tree produces consists of 80% citronellal. The oils can be used for perfumery, or to make insect repellent – because mosquitos really don’t like lemons.
That said, I’ve never caught the scent of lemons on Kennedy Road. Perhaps that’s because of all the car exhaust, or because the height of the trees make their canopies so out of reach of my olfactory senses that any hint has long dissipated.
But you know what they say, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. If you make the effort to get to this Lemon-scented Gum, I promise you the journey is well worth it, because you have to pass some pretty amazing trees on the way. If you are coming from the West, you get a privileged view of some ancient members inside Hong Kong Park. If you are heading from the East, there are several distinct Chinese Banyans that are pretty special.
Stay tune for more.