Connect with us

Thai Life

Gardening: A shrub with no enemies – allamandas

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: It’s astonishing what one can learn by watching Mother Nature at work. As readers know, my garden has long been plagued by hawk moth caterpillars, but what is fascinating is that these voracious munchers have a distinct pecking (or should I say munching) order.

Their diet, in strict order of preference, is tabernaemontas, then periwinkles, next adeniums and then neriums or oleanders.

Annoyingly, the delicate tabernaemontana, or pinwheel flower, with its tiny evergreen leaves and white blooms, is the least able to bear these larval assaults: one day’s activity and a plant can be stripped of foliage.

All these shrubs not only possess poisonous foliage and fruits, but they also belong to the same large family of apocynaceae. They are often gardeners’ favorites: showy, flowering shrubs, at home in tropical conditions. This group, all toxic in varying degrees, are revealing their secrets to science, proving important new sources of heart stimulants, such as cardiac glycosides. Traditional medicine has long been aware of their curative properties.

Nonetheless, there are inconsistencies. While it has been conjectured that caterpillars derive immunity from eating toxic foliage, it seems that certain predators couldn’t care at all about that.

Plumerias (frangipanis), for instance, though victims of a worldwide affliction called rust, seem impervious to larval attacks, while allamandas, my personal top shrub, seem, in Thailand at least, to have no enemies at all.

Allamandas are deservedly popular. Though they grow with sufficient vigor to be rated invasive in parts of Queensland, they adapt perfectly to Phuket’s hot, humid climate and my garden would be the poorer without them.

A robust grower, allamanda cathartica will bloom more or less continuously in tropical environments provided the soil is not too alkaline and the roots are not allowed to dry out completely. Mature growth can be cut back, especially if the lower stems become straggly due to limited exposure to the sun.
Yet another shrub with curative properties, the allamanda contains iridoid lactones, which is used for liver complaints, malaria and even in the fight against certain cancers.

Its less spectacular cousin, allamanda schotti, has narrow leaves and similar, but smaller
yellow flowers. Very popular as a massed border plant for road verges or central reservations,
it is even hardier than A cathartica.

Less robust is allamanda blanchettii, a shrub that has the characteristic trumpet-shaped blooms, but in a shade of dusky rose-pink. Like all allamandas, it seems completely disease and caterpillar free. Quite a bonus.

Catch Patrick at Sunday morning next week, when he reveals more of his gardening expertise.

— Patrick Campbell


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 mins ago

Nightlife businesses petition government to reopen, sell alcohol

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Koh Larn 70% vaccinated as Pattaya eyes reopening

Economy6 hours ago

BMA extends permits for street vendors to 2 years for stability

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Phuket7 hours ago

Expats in Phuket without a work permit can register for a Covid-19 vaccine

Environment7 hours ago

Tar balls wash ashore on several Phuket beaches

Thailand7 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Private vaccines, PM promises to re-open Thailand, Phuket Sandbox | June 17

Thailand8 hours ago

2 dead following truck crash

Thailand8 hours ago

Outbreaks at factories rise, operators ordered to file Covid risk assessment

Thailand8 hours ago

Prayut going to Phuket, see if it’s Sandbox ready

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Chulabhorn Royal Academy details Sinopharm vaccine insurance

Thailand9 hours ago

Thai-English auto-translate down on Facebook due to “technical issues”

Best of9 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Phuket

Crime9 hours ago

Famous/infamous murder suspect out on bail wins lottery

Thailand10 hours ago

Police arrest 2 men for allegedly trying to extort 2 million baht from a man

Phuket10 hours ago

Electricty outages in Phuket today

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8