- Specie: Yellow Cow Wood (cratoxylum cochinchinense) 黃牛木
- Location: Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Garden, path towards exit to the Church of the Immaculate Conception
Came across a dainty little tree with dainty little red flowers on the side of a path inside the Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens – the one that leads out to Glenealy Street and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The flowers were reminiscent of plum and peach blossoms, small about a centimetre wide with pink petals around a yellow and green centre. It is a small and completely missable tree if it was not for the flowers. But lucky me, I just happened to walk pass when the flowers were emerging – in late April, early May. From my photos, I was able to identify the specie – Yellow Cow Wood.
As you can see, the flowers of the specie are quite pretty, although obviously not as glamourous as, say, the Jacaranda, the Cotton Tree, or the Golden Trumpet, or the Peltophorum Tonkinense. But up close, the blooms, nestled amongst the perky leaves, offer a nice surprise in the sea of green.
The tree’s bark is pretty distinct too, resembling unbaked clay, or perhaps the shade of yellow/brown cattle. The reddish brown colour of the bark is probably what gave the specie its common English and Chinese name, which is a literal translation of the English nomenclature – ‘yellow, cow, wood.’
The specie is native to the region, but not that common in Hong Kong, at least not in the district that I frequent. This particular specimen grows inside an circular opening on a slope paved over by concrete overlooking the head of Glenealy Street that serves as the main entrance to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s quite a wondrous tree despite its modest size and height, and out-of-the-way location. If you get a chance or just happen to be in the vicinity in the next week or so, take a stroll up the path into the gardens for a closer encounter. Not only will you get a glimpse of this fabulous tree, it’s totally worth bathing yourself in the forest of the gardens. It’s good for you!
On that note, I almost forgot, the Yellow Cow Wood tree is actually believed to have traditional medicinal qualities. According to online, otherwise noted as “unsubstantiated” articles, parts of the Yellow Cow Wood can be made into a tea that can act as an antitoxin to cleanse the liver, and reduce ‘body heat.’