Another prominent spring bloomer in Hong Kong is the African Tulip tree, with its large, bright orange wallet-sized flowers.
The non-native specie is relatively common around the city, no doubt a favourite with landscape artists. On the other hand, I’ve not see an individual as impressive as this mature member in Happy Valley.
The tree is easily as tall as some of the low rise buildings in the area. Standing inside an island peninsula on a corner, it dominates the scene with its height, and this time of year (May), its glamour.
The tree itself is pretty splendid too. The years have clearly left their traces on the tree, whose main trunk bears the marks of its struggle to reach such heights.
If you get a chance, do pay this venerable ancient tree all the way from Africa a visit to pay your respects. It’s definitely worth the trip, and you get to discover a great neighbourhood with lots of restaurants, bars, and plenty of trees, like the spider in a wall, or the near ubiquitous Queen Crepe Myrtle on every corner.
If you are still not enthralled with the Africa Tulip tree, then you might want to know the specie’s name in French – immortel étranger, literally meaning immortal stranger. Now how much more romantic than a concept of someone that lives forever but is always unknowable – vampire myth anyone?
That said, the name might have a more sinister meaning, as the specie is actually considered a ‘class 3 pest’ specie in Queensland, Australia, From what I know of invasive species, they are typically hard to kill off, and typically never integrated themselves in the local ecosystem, hence – an immortal stranger.