Friday, October 3, 2008

Provincial symbol flowers and trees

Almost every province has two plants as their provincial symbols, one flower and one tree. In a few cases, flower and tree symbol are the same plant, for example Phatthalung has Shorea roxburghii for both. There are also a few provinces without a symbol flower, for example Krabi and Songkhla, but all provinces (including Bangkok) have a symbol tree.

The photo to the right shows one of two Yellow Flame Trees (Peltophorum pterocarpum) planted in front of the provincial hall of Nonthaburi, quite obviously because this is the provincial symbol tree for Nonthaburi.

I had compiled the complete list back when I researched to create the Wikipedia articles on the provinces, and the main sources were the province descriptions from the Ministry of Interior (the PDF files likes in the green box of this page), a list from (flower and trees), and also somewhere in the TAT website. In most cases these sources all list the same plants, but in some cases there are problems, interestingly only for the trees. For example for Samut Songkhram most have Casuarina equisetifolia as the provincial tree, but the TAT listed Barringtonia asiatica instead. It is of course possible that a different tree has been assigned to the province lately and not all lists have been updated already. An authoritative list would of course be fine to settle the last doubts.

For most flowers and almost all of the tree I did not find any explanation on why that specific plant was chosen. But from the few where I know the rationale I am presenting four examples.
    Rafflesia kerrii
  • The provincial flower of Surat Thani is the Rafflesia, which is an obvious choice since this flower is the most extraordinary flower of all Thailand, and is found most often and easily accessible in this province. I first heard about this flower when I researched that province article, but it took me some years till I was able to see one in nature.
  • The provincial flower for Ubon Ratchathani is the lotus (Nymphaea lotus), which is also quite clear as Ubon means Lotus. Just not sure if it is in Sanskrit or on Pali, the languages which are the origin of many ceremonial names are words in Thailand.
  • Another obvious choice is the Siam Tulip (Curcuma alismatifolia), the provincial flower for Chaiyaphum. I visited the Siam Tulip fields in Pa Hin Ngam national park in this province, which is clearly one of the attraction of this province.
  • The provincial tree of Chumphon is the cluster fig (Ficus glomerata). The Thai name of this tree is Maduea Chumphon (มะเดื่อชุมพร), and it is one of the possible explanation for the origin of the name of the province.
Wherever I found the explanation for the specific choice I added it into the Wikipedia article, so if you know any not covered there yet I'd love to hear about them.


Nils said...

The relatively unknown public park Suan Phan Phirom at Rama IX Road has a collection of the provincial trees, see my geocache posting here for a short description:

Andy said...

Never knew that small park, maybe next time I'll drop it a visit. But more interesting would be the location of another park in Bangkok with the provincial trees - 76 Provinces Royal Auspicious Trees Park (อาคารพิพิธภัณฑ์ บริเวณสวนไม้มงคลพระราชทาน 76 จังหวัด) in Nong Chok in the far east of the city. I have no idea about the exact location however and would love to know, since it also has the district museum of Nong Chok inside that one.