Nov 13, 2018

Flora in the heart of the urban jungle

 

Hong Kong may be world-renowned as a metropolitan city with skyscrapers, and an urban jungle in every sense of the word, but there’s a side to it that not too many know about… the city’s greenery and incredible biodiversity. For example, Hong Kong has the distinction of being one of the few cities around the globe to have ‘stone-wall trees’.

 

Chinese Banyan Tree

 

The Chinese Banyan

 

What are stone-wall trees? They’re scientifically known as ficus microcarpa, or more famously, the Chinese Banyan. The stone-wall banyan trees have been a part of Hong Kong for over a quarter of a century and have come to be associated with the city.

 

For those who have lived in Hong Kong and passed by the stone-wall trees, you know how they’ve added to the essence of the city.

 

There are an estimated 1,275 stone-wall trees across Hong Kong. Apart from aesthetic value, they serve an important ecological purpose. Firstly, these huge trees protect roads and people from the heat of the sun. Secondly, they help reduce air pollution. Thirdly, they’re important for the biodiversity of the region as they provide a home for insects and birds. 

 

Hong Kong is famous for more than just the stone-wall trees. Here are some of the other plants well known to the city. 

 

Bauhinia

 

Bauhinia X Blakeana: The City Flower

 

In 1965, The Bauhinia X Blakeanawas made the official Hong Kong city flower. It became the regional emblem of the HK Special Administrative Region in 1997. As a result, this species has been cultivated in various parts of Hong Kong, especially parks and gardens. The plant’s official documentation took place in 1903, with a report describing it as ‘mysterious’, as the origins of the plant are still unknown. Researchers have failed to link it to any foreign plant species.

 

The flower was named after Sir Henry Blake (the Governor of HK, 1898-1903) and Lady Blake, to pay tribute to their investment in botanic gardens.

 

Azalea

 

Hong Kong Azalea

 

Discovered in 1851, the species take on different colours during different seasons. For example, around April, they appear to be white or light red. However, they’re more commonly seen in a purple shade and are grown in parks around Ma On Shan.

 

Camellia

 

Hong Kong Camellia

 

These beautiful flowers were discovered in 1849 in a ravine at Victoria Peak. A native Hong Kong plant, the Camellia blossoms between late Autumn and Spring.

 

 

Tutcher’s Maple

 

Tutcher’s Maple falls under the same genus as the Canadian Maple. It was discovered on Lantau in 1904, and found great interest. Just like the Canadian Maple leaf, these turn red in Autumn. They’re only seen in higher altitude regions in Hong Kong.

 

Dating back to the colonial period, the government has generally done a good job of cultivating various species of flowers and increasing the greenery and beauty of the growing city. It’s the little things that define a city’s characteristics and the huge variety of flowers is something that remains a cherished part of Hong Kong’s background over the years.

 

Why not take a hike in Hong Kong’s beautiful nature to enjoy the flora with Mozaic Club? Mozaic’s next hike will be an easy, 2-hour walk around Lamma Island on Sunday, 18 November, ending with a shared seafood lunch at the Tai Yuen Seafood Restaurant.  We will take a ferry from the Aberdeen ferry pier at 11am.  

Sign up here:  https://www.mozaiclub.com.hk/index.php?route=social_detail&id=284

 

#mozaic #flora #tree #urbanjungle

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