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HOME > TRAVEL >

COMPASS MAGAZINE, April 2007.

KAOHSIUNG'S HAVEN FOR INDIGENOUS PLANTS

By Steven Crook Translated by Ann Lee

Kaohsiung is lucky to have a park devoted to indigenous flora. The Protogenic Plants Garden is small (4.66 hectares) and, from the outside, it doesn't look much different from a regular city park with benches and a play area for kids. Most of the information boards are bilingual. As you enter the garden, you'll notice a set of rules: Visitors are forbidden to touch plants, catch creatures, or introduce outside organisms.

If you can, visit more than once and read up on the species here. One interesting plant is Barringtonia racemosa, also known as the Fish-Killer Tree. This medium-sized evergreen, notable for its huge leaves, is found throughout Asia. Its long, hanging strands of green buds (which become pink or white flowers) are its most attractive feature.

Among plants you've likely seen before, but perhaps never paid much attention to, is Lantana camara L. The specimens here have pink and white flowers, though orange flowers seem to be more common around Taiwan.
The Chinese Flame Tree (Koelreuteria henryi Dummer) is a soapberry species. The berries can be crushed and soap made from the pulp; as recently as the 1960s, country folk in Taiwan used these berries to do their laundry. It grows well in both rural and urban environments. When in flower, it has red and yellow blossoms.

The camphor tree -- camphor oil used to be one of Taiwan's main exports -- is also represented. There's also a section devoted to some of Taiwan's 300 species of aquatic plants.
The easiest way to get to the garden is by train. Get off at Zuoying (not New Zuoying, which serves the high-speed railway station) and turn right as you walk out of the station. Walk parallel to the train tracks for a few minutes, then turn right across the tracks at the first intersection. You'll see the garden on the left side of the road. Alternatively, take City Bus No. 301

 

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