Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening – put a cork in your garden

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: There are small trees around Phuket that you simply never notice until they suddenly burst dramatically into bloom.

Millingtonia (Indian cork tree) is one of these. A verdant wayside presence during the monsoon, it comes into its own in October, producing masses of white, fragrant flowers which account for one of its popular names of “tree jasmine”. A more profuse bloomer than any of the jasmine family, the young five-petaled flowers are pendant and bell-shaped, only revealing their similarity to jasmine when fully open.

Moreover, these panicles or clusters are produced at the end of long, elegant white stems. No wonder this tree is popular in Phuket, where it is known simply as biip. Some imaginative developers employ it as an ornamental tree for lining the avenues of residential estates: Patak Villas in Chalong, for instance, has many of these trees, all currently in fragrant bloom.

There are other reasons why it is a good choice for street or garden. One is its rapidity of growth. It takes only six to eight years to reach maturity and will flower much earlier than that. And millingtonia quickly develops an attractive shape, with an elongated trunk and relatively open crown. Perfect for gardens where you want to cultivate smaller shrubs underneath without depriving them of too much sun.

The Indian cork tree is an only child, without relatives of any description. Thank goodness, it is widely distributed in Phuket, especially by birds, who have a liking for the flat, capsule-like seeds. It is quintessentially a South East Asian tree and is apparently not much cultivated elsewhere. Indeed, it revels in the hot humid climate which characterizes this part of the globe, where it will tolerate poor soil so long as it gets a sufficiency of moisture and sun.

Erythrina (the coral tree), on the other hand is a member of the substantial genus of fabaceae, small trees and shrubs with spiny trunks and branches, that belong to the pea family. Although there is a white variety, most possess strikingly beautiful red flowers that either droop in dense coral clusters (crista-galli) or are borne on long spikes (fusca). Crista galli, the most exotic family member, has the common name of cockspur coral, since its blooms resemble the comb of a cockerel.

However, there are several advantages to having a coral tree in your Phuket garden. In well-drained soil and over a dry period – it is free-flowering, and has attractive, three part leaves which are either a vivid dark green or, in the case of variegata, boldly patterned with bright yellow. It is moreover, mostly evergreen. Normally, the leaves fall once a year, allowing the brilliant scarlet flowers to be fully visible; in other cases, the leaves and blooms appear together.

Unlike millingtonia which has a long slender stem, the coral tree has a short trunk which means that its height rarely exceeds three meters. And its nectar-rich flowers mean that it attracts a wide variety of nectar-feeding birds. Definitely one for the ornithologists among you.

Phuket Gardening is Phuket Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell’s feature of all things flora.

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


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.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Guides19 mins ago

8 things to do correctly in Thailand

Best of1 hour ago

Thailand’s 5 most absolutely luxurious hotels

Myanmar1 hour ago

Myanmar envoy updated to Brunei’s 2nd Foreign Affairs Minister

Sponsored5 hours ago

Tour Phuket’s Islands with 5 Star Marine

Welcome back to Thailand!

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

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand’s national parks ban the use of some sunscreens containing particular chemicals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 20,200 new cases, provincial totals

Guides3 hours ago

Visa Exemption Rule – 56 countries to enter Thailand without a visa

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Third phase testing successful for Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine

Phuket4 hours ago

Phuket police arrest 2 men and seize more than 160,000 methamphetamine pills

Thailand5 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | Hemp Ice cream, Thai English proficiency, Covid stats

Best of6 hours ago

5 Best Seafood Restaurants in Koh Samui

Coronavirus Vaccines7 hours ago

Health Ministry to distribute 10 million vaccine doses across Thailand this month

Protests7 hours ago

31 anti-government activists granted conditional release

Best of7 hours ago

Top 5 suit tailors in Bangkok

Protests7 hours ago

Ban on mass gatherings published in Royal Gazette ahead of anti-government protests this weekend

Thailand7 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: Record high of 20,200 new cases and 188 deaths

Thailand5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

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

Phuket5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

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

Thailand6 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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