National tree's great white hope revealed at last
After spying a version of 'Cassia fistula' national flower with snowy petals tinged with yellow, Normita Thongtham is finally satisfied that reports of the mutant strain of this beautiful and healthful plant are genuine
I don't remember now if I read or heard from someone many years ago that Cassia fistula, known in Thai as ratchapruek, has a mutant strain with white flowers. Cassia fistula is the Thai national tree and produces the national flower and is a familiar sight along Bangkok's streets and provincial roads, as well as in public parks and private gardens throughout the country. However despite how ubiquitous the tree, is until recently I had never seen one with white flowers. Once, passing through Lop Buri while travelling to Phetchabun, I saw a tree whose flowers were a few shades lighter than most, but they were still yellow, not white.
MIXED PARENTAGE: Crosses between ‘Cassia fistula’ and ‘Cassia bakeriana’ have flowers with features from both trees.
Cassia fistula as we know it has long strands of bright yellow flowers which become golden as they mature, giving it the common name "golden shower". The trees are most spectacular in the summer when their leafless branches are festooned by flowers, which begin to appear as the last of the leaves are shedding in March, and continue to bloom until new leaves develop in May. Juvenile trees do not shed their leaves, but their yellow flowers stand out and look even brighter with the shiny, light green leaves in the background.
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