King George V’s Banyans

  • Specie: Chinese Banyan (ficus microcarpa 細葉榕)
  • Old and Valuable tree listing: ARCHSD CW/11 to CW/23
  • Location: King George V Memorial Park, western mid-levels

As I have written on many an occasion, Hong Kong is full of Chinese Banyans, many growing on walls and structures, often held up by a web of intricate aerial roots.

But even with such abundance, there are a few locations in the city where the trees themselves take over the environment as the centrepiece, defining the space around them with their presence. One such place is King George V Memorial Park that is bordered by Third Street, Eastern Street and Hospital Road.

The park itself is nice enough, but it seems like it was purpose-built for the trees that line its multi-level terraces. The Banyans grow at regular intervals along the walkways that border Hospital Road and Eastern Street, each standing like ancient sentries at eternal salute of the park goers.

Each tree is different but the same, with their beautifully sculpted root systems and large voluminous trunks.

Their splendour has not gone unnoticed, as the majority – I think a dozen – are listed on Hong Kong’s Old and Valuable tree registrar.

In fact, the trees are so prominent here that there’s a dedicated plaque explaining their nature. Briefly, the translation say they are evergreen trees that absorb nutrients from their aerial roots, allowing them to grow in difficult sites, like stone walls. The plaque concludes with the statement that the trees have become the ‘special’ characteristic of the park. I couldn’t agree more.

But despite its name, it is highly unlikely that King George V had anything to do with the trees. Public information say the park was only completed on the year of his death, 1936, and named after his Royal Highness as a gesture.

That puts the trees at around 80 years old, just a few years younger than my father.

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Categories:Chinese Banyan, Old and valuable trees of Hong Kong, parks and gardens, treelover, urbantrees, Urbantrees of Hong Kong, Walled treesTags: , , , , ,

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