- Species: Sweet Gum, Indian Almond Tree, Queen Crepe Myrtle
- Location: various
Fall, or autumn as they say in some countries, brings with it some of the most amazing kind of splendour in the arboreal world. In places where the temperature takes a dive southward, the foliage of many tree species explodes in a range of hues in preparation for their ‘fall’ to the ground, and the pending winter.
Indeed, fall colours are met by many as an annual celebration. Many in Hong Kong even travel to colder climates like Japan and Korea, just to bath themselves in the splendid reds and oranges of the Japanese Maple, or the flirty yellows of the Gingko.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s climate and much of its evergreen tree species don’t make the same transition, but that doesn’t mean ‘fall’ is completely absent here.
There are at least three species of trees that do make the transition to winter by changing their colours and shedding their leaves.
Sweet Gum (liquidambar Formosa 楓香)
The Sweet Gum changes its 3-lobed leaves to a spectrum of colours between bright yellow to rust red during the fall and winter months.
You won’t get the density that you’d see with the trees in places like Japan, but there are notable members among Hong Kong’s landscapes.
These are from a row of Sweet Gums inside the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
A couple of others can be found inside the campus of HKU (in the garden outside the engineering building), including a champion tree measuring 22.7 metres tall.
They also line the hills of the Tai Po Nature Reserve.
There are random Sweet Gums dotted all around the city, so start looking.
Indian Almond (terminalia catappa 欖仁樹)
Indian Almond trees have some of the biggest leaves in Hong Kong’s treedom. The broad obtuse tear drop-shaped leaves are the size of slippers and turn deep crimson and burgundy red before they blanket the ground underneath.
Indian Almond trees aren’t that common in the city, although they can be easily found. There is a row of these majestic trees opposite the parking lot of Bowen Road Gardens.
There are also loads of these trees in the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, but I haven’t visited recently so not sure if they have transformed themselves yet. There is also a single massive representative in Causeway Bay on the corner of Lee Gardens Road and Hysan Ave. I am sure there are plenty more around if you keep your eyes open.
Queen Crepe Myrtle (lagerstroemia speciosa 大花紫薇)
The Queen Crepe Myrtle is a remarkable species. It not only has some of the prettiest purple flowers when it blooms during the summer but it also puts on quite a show in the fall and winter months when its leaves turn shades of amber, orange and rust, just before they fall off the branches.
The leaves are oblong, broad and can reach as long as 25 centimetres. As they transform, they fall off quite quickly but there should be plenty left on the branches to admire.
The trees are pretty common around the city, although rarely in groups big enough to fill an entire scene.
Popular places to spot the Queen Crepe Myrtle include Happy Valley, Pond Lane, Mid-levels, HKU, Kowloon Park.
There are other tree species in Hong Kong that change the colour of their leaves this time of year, such as the Chinese Tallow tree, but these are much rarer, especially in the heart of the city. Then again, perhaps that is reason enough to go look for them and enjoy the truly gorgeous weather out there.