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Koh Phangan Koh Samui

In Koh Phangan it is not just about beaches and big Parties, it is also nature. The island is protected and more than half of its surface is declared "National park", and the zoning of Phangan is very tough concerning buildings area. It allows the island to stay as virgin as it can be for a tourist area. Here like in all tropical areas, the tropical forest are like a kaleidoscope of different world. (they actually cover a fifth of the earth's land surface and are home to about half of the known species of animal and plant life).
Here, you will be surrounded by colorful flowers of all kinds, huge trees and beautiful different tropical plants. Just watch carefully around you, and you will be amazed by the splendour the nature offers in Koh Phangan.

This page is definitely for nature lovers, here you will find some of the tropical plants and flowers you well see everyday around you. Have a look at them and learn a bit more about all these beautiful species. You will find many of them around here, tropical flowers and plants, in plant pot, gardens or in the wild.

You can also check the Samui section for information and pictures about Tropical Orchids and tropical Flowering Shrubs and Vines .


Many of the most ornamental tropical shrubs and creepers are familiar to plant lovers in temperate countries thanks to their widespread use in greenhouses and as potted specimens. Less well known, perhaps, because of their size, are the numerous ornamental trees that play such a fundamental role in garden landscapes, bringing beauty in the form of often spectacular flowers and also a wide range of shapes and textures.
Over the past three or four centuries such tress have spread from their original habitats throughout the tropic, so that today´s gardener has an extensive variety of choices from places he may never have seen. Adapted to local conditions, sometimes hybridized into new varieties, these and countless others have become truly international, as basic to the gardens of Southeast Asia as they are to those of Honolulu and Miami.

 LAGERSTROEMIA SPECIOSA (Queen's Crape Myrtle - Pride of India) * Left picture
Also popularly known as the Rose of India and the Crepe Myrtle, this native of India is one of the most popular flowering trees in the tropics. It can eventually reach a height of 30 m, but is slow growing and smaller specimens, which flower when relatively young, are usually seen in gardens; the tree is also used along avenues in several Southeast Asian capitals.

 DELONIX REGIA (Royal Poinciana - Flame Tree) * Right picture
Discovered in the early 19th century in its native Madagascar by the botanist Wensel Bojer, the flame tree (also known as the Flamboyant, the Poinciana, and the Flame of the forest) quickly spread throughout the tropics and became one of the most popular ornamental trees. Growing rapidly from seed, the tree may reach a height of 5 to 8m and forms a dome of long, sweeping branches with attractive feathery, fern-like leaves.
Pride of India - Lagerstroemia speciosa  Flame tree - Delonix regia

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 BAUHINIA (Orchid tree - Butterfly tree) * Left picture
Bauhinia is a large genus of some 300 species, among them vines, shrubs, and small trees. Perhaps the best known of the latter is Bauhinia x blakeana, popularly called the Hong Kong Orchid Tree, which has the two-lobed or twin leaves generally characteristic of Bauhinia and large, scented five-petalled purple flowers that do indeed resemble orchids. On the closely related Bauhinia variegata, the flowers range in colour from pure white through lavendar, on Bauhinia purpurea they are rose-mauve flowers.

 PLUMERIA (Frangipani - Temple Tree) * Right picture
The Frangipani is among the easiest of tropical trees to propagate from seeds, cutting, and air-layering, which is perhaps one reason why this native of New World quickly spread to other warm-weather regions. Another is the beauty of its fragant, five-petaled flowers, which are used as offerings in both Buddhist and Hindu ceremories; it is also planted in Muslim cemeteries in Malaysia and Indonesia. The small to medium-sized tree was named after the French botanist Charles Plumier, who made tree voyages to the Caribbean area in the 17th century.
Bauhinia - Orchid tree  Frangipani - Plumeria

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 TECOMA STANA (Yellow Bells, Yellow Trumpet Tree)
This tall, erect shrub from tropical America, which can become a small tree, regularly produces large clusters of bright yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, which explains its popularity in many gardens. It has light green pinnate leaves and grows quite rapidly, developing within a few months into an attractive plant that is usefull for screening or in mixed beds.
Tecoma stans - Yellow Bells, Yellow Trumpet Tree  Tecoma stans - Yellow Bells, Yellow Trumpet Tree

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 CASSIA * Left picture
Cassia is a large genus with some 500 species, among which are a number of highly attractive flowering trees. To many tropical gardeners, the most beautiful is Caasia Fistula, populary called the Golden Shower Tree or the Indian Laburnum. Native of South Asia, this is medium to large tree with ovate, pointed leaflets; when these drop, usually in the dry season, masses of bright gold flower clusters appear on almost every branch.

 ACACIA AURICULIFORMIS (Wattle) * Right picture
This is a very fast-growing, bushy tree which can attain a height of up to 10 metres. On some specimens, the crown is dense and rounded; on others, especially as they age, it is much looser. What appear to be leaves are actually phyllodes, flattened leaf stalks; the fragant, mimosa-like flowers appear frequently on short spikes and are followed by tightly coiled seed pods.
Cassia Fistula - Golden Shower Tree  Acacia auriculiformis - Wattle

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The term "fruit" denotes the product of a plant´s reproductive system, ranging from a fleshy berry, such as in the Mulberry tree; a drupe with a hard interior pit, such as on a Tropical Almond Tree; a pome such as an apple; a nut with a hard outer shell, such as a coconut; a pod, such as the fruit of Tamarind; a cone of a pine tree and other conifer; a flat, elliptical key as on a Burmese Rosewood; and balls, capsules, and mutlets.

 ANACARDIUM OCCIDENTALE (Cashew) * Left picture
Cashew is native to northeastern Brazil, in the area between the Atlantic rain forest and the Amazon rain forest. The Portuguese introduced cashew to the west coast of India and east Africa in the 16th century, shortly after its discovery in 1578. It was planted in India initially to reduce erosion, and uses for the nut and pseudofruit, the cashew apple, were developed much later. Evergreen spreading tree to 13 metres high. Milky, acrid sap. Cultivated for its edible seed (cashew nut). Thrives in hot, semi-arid climates.

 EUGENIA AQUEA (Water apple - Water rose apple) * Right picture
Evergreen tree, 5 to 8 metres high. Fruits pear-shaped, about 5 cm long, white to light gree, and pink; its flesh is watery and crisp.
Anacardium occidentale - Cashew  Egenia aquea - Water apple - Water rose apple

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 NEPHELIUM LAPPACEUM (Rambutan) * Left picture
Evergreen fruit tree bearing oval-shaped fruit with reddish and soft spines. often confused with the Leechee, its flesh is sweeter.

 TAMARINDUS INDICA (Tamarind) * Centre picture
Evergreen tree to 25 metres high. Bark is dark brown. Acidic sweet pulp surrounding seeds, eaten as fresh fruit or dried. Also an ingredient of chutney, curries and juices for drinks; slightly laxative.

 ARTOCARPUS HETEROPHYLLA (Jack fruit) * Right picture
Evergreen tree to 15 metres high. Unripe fruit eaten as a cooked vegetable. Ripe fruit eaten for its pulp, either fresh or cooked.
Nephelium lappaceum - Rambutan  Tamarindus indica - Tamamrind  Artocarpus heterophylla - Jack fruit

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 CARICA PAPAYA (Papaya) * Left picture
Papaya is native to tropical America, from Southern Mexico through the Andes of South America. It was spread to the south by Indians, and throughout the Caribbean with Spanish exploration. Small, short-lived, evergreen, non-woody tree to 7.5 metres high, grown for its fruit from which protein-digesting papain is extracted.

 MUSA SPP. (Banana) * Centre picture
Edible Musa spp. originated in southeastern Asia, from India east and south to northern Australia. Bananas were not carried to Europe until the 10th century, and Portuguese traders obtained it from west Africa, not southeast Asia, during the age of discovery. Over 100 species of these giant, cespitose, rhizomatous, tree-like herbs. Grown for edible fruit or as an ornamental to lend a tropical feeling to a garden. After bearing fruit, tree dies, but a new shoot springs up beside it.

 BROMELIADS (Ananas comosus - Pineapple) * Right picture
The pineapple is native to dry forest or thorn scrub vegetation regions of South America, although its exact origin is disputed. Older sources placed the center of diversity in southern Brazil and Paraguay, but more recent study suggests it may be northern Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. The Bromeliads comprise a very large family of some 52 genera and 2,500 recognized species, a number that is constantly growing through hybridization. The flesh of the Ananas comosus is "delicious and freshing to the taste". Although pineapples are generally seen in plantations rather than gardens, one cultivar, Ananas comosus "Varieta", has handsome striped leaves with red spines along the margins and is often used as an ornamental.
Carica papaya - Papaya  Musa spp. - Banana  Ananas comosus

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No other family evokes the tropics more powerfully than the Palmae in one of its many forms, whether the graceful Coconut Palm arching over a beach or the stately Royal Palm along an avenue.
Many of the nearly 4,000 palm species grow in sub-tropical or temperate regions and were familiar to anyone who had visited the Mediterranean coast or the Middle East. Immensely tall or relatively low, feathery or fanlike, massive or dainty, there is a palm, it would seem, to suit almost any garden, and the problem is to make a choice. In addition, there are plants that are palm-like in their graceful arrangements of stems or leaves, together with the bamboos, which can make a similar contribution to garden landscaping.

 DYPSIS LUTESCENS (Golden cane palm) * Left picture
Originating in Madagascar, this is an extremely useful tufted palm, widely grown in both pots and gardens. It grows in thick, bushy clumps with slim, ringed trunks that curve slightly out ward and graceful feather-shaped leaves on which the petioles are yellow when the palm is planted in full sun.

 BAMBUSA VULGARIS (Bamboo) * Centre picture
Going under the popular name of Bamboo are a number of gerena, all belonging to the huge Gramineae, or grass, family. Most grow in full or partial shade, on canes that may be short but are more often very tall. The larger varieties are not generally suited to small gardens since they can become invasive. Bambusa vulgaris "Aureo-variegata" has canes that are striped with green and bright yellow.

 COCO NUCIFERA (Coconut palm) * Right picture
The origin of the coconut palm is obscured by the ability of the fruit to disseminate the species naturally over distances of thousands of miles. Coconuts can float on the ocean for months and still germinate when beached, so they may have arisen anywhere between the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans. Prior to the age of discovery, coconuts were dispersed from east Africa to the Pacific coast of Panama. Trunk up to 20 metres high, usually somewhat curved out from a thickened base. Its parts have many uses in berevages, food, oil, thatch for roofs, timber, fibers from its husk; a lifesaver in tropical regions.
Dypsis lutescens (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)- Golden Cana Palm  Bambusa vulgaris - Bamboo  Coco nucifera - Coconut palm

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 LICUALA * Left picture
This a genus consisting of about 100 species, most of them medium-sized tropical fan palms. One of the most popular is Licuala grandis, the Ruffled Fan Palm, which grows to about 1.5 metres on a solitary trunk and has large, fan-like, regularly pleated leaves that have notched edges.

 BAMBUSA VENTRICOSA (Bamboo) * Centre left picture
Bambusa ventricosa, known as Buddha´s Belly, is fairly low-growing, with canes that are swollen between the internodes.

 ARECA CATECHU (Betel nut palm) * Centre right picture
This fast-growing, solitary palm is commercially cultivated throughout Southeast Asia because of its fruit, which has a mildly narcotic effect. Betel-nut chewing has waned in popularity, but the palm is still widely seen, often planted for its decorative qualities.

 RAVENALA MADAGASCARIENSIS (Traveller´s palm) * Right picture
This famous native of Madagascar is not, of course, a palm at all. It belongs instead to a family related to the banana. The popular name derives from the fact that drinkable water accumulates at the leaf bases to assuage the thirst of anyone in need. A dramatic feature in traditional tropical gardens - though too large for a small one - its enormous, banana-like leaves fan out from a tall trunk, reaching up to 20 metres in height.
Licuala  Bambusa ventricosa - Bamboo  Areca catechu - Betel nut palm  Ravenala madagascariensis - Traveller's palm

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Flowers are not the only source of colour in a tropical garden or greenhouse. They can be accompanied by numerous specimens on which the blooms are inconspicuous or relatively uninteresting but which offer, as if in compensation, a brilliant array of foliage hues and unusual leaf forms. Some of these were among the earliest exotics brought back to the West by European collectors, attracting crowds when they were first exhibited and later winning popularity as cherished house plants. In tropics, often far from their countries of origin, they have been equally popular with gardeners seeking to create bright contrasts and variety amid the predominant green, particulary in places where flowering shrubs are difficult because of heavy rains or insufficient light.

 ASPLENIUM NIDUS (Bird's Nest Fern) * Left picture
Native to tropical Asia, this is by nature an epiphyte and can be seen growing wild in the branches of tall trees. The long, leathery leaves - narrow on some varieties, very wide on others - grows in a huge rosette and renewed periodically all year long. In time, a plant can reach a diameter of 1.5 meters.

 ALOCASIA MACRORRHIZA (Elephant Ear) * Centre picture
There are some 70 species of Alocasia, all native to tropical Asia and many with distinctive foliage. One of the largest is Alocasia macrorrhiza, populary known as the Elephant Ear, on which the leaves can be 1 or 2 metres long growing out of a thick trunk.

 AGLAONEMA (Chinese Evergreen) * Right picture
Closely related to Dieffenbachia, Aglaoneme is a genus of twenty-odd species, most of them relatively low plants with attractive variegated leaves. There are countless cultivas, several with strikingly patterned leaves and white stems. They are also popular as house plants.
Asplenium nidus - Bird's nest fren  Alocasia macrorrhiza - Elephant ear Aglaonema - Chinese Evergreen

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 POLYSCIAS (Panax) * Left & Centre left picture
This is one of the most useful foliage plants in tropical gardens, lending itself readily to hedges, massed beds, and background planting, and it also serves as an attractive potted specimen for courtyards and terraces. The leaves may be varying shades of green or variegated and come in a remarkable number of shapes.

 ACALYPHA WILKESSIANA * Centre right picture
A native of the East Indies and the Pacific, this is one of the most striking foliage shrubs and is widely used by tropical gardeners. Cultivars of Acalypha wilkesiana, which can grow as tall as 2 metres, are found in a wide variety of colours : green and white, green and yellow, red, bronze, coppery, or brown. The leaves also vary in form.

 PANDANUS (Screw Pine) * Right picture
Some menbers of this large genus of over 600 species, like Pandanus tectorius, grow wild along the seashores of the tropical Pacific and can become small trees, while other, shrubbier species lend themselves to garden landscapes. The popular name derives from the fact that the long, prickly leaves emerge in a screw-like arrangement.
Polyscias - Panax  Polyscias - Panax Acalypha wilkesiana  Pandanus - Screw Pine

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The first Codiaeum reached England from the East Indies in 1804. Other soon followed, with leaves of different colours and shapes, and the shrub became a common greenhouse ornamental. Codiaeum crossed Atlantic towards the end of the 19th century and became the most popular of all potted house plants. New hydrids continue to be introduced, particulary in Thailand where they are regarded as bearers of good luck as well as being decorative. Codiaeum varies in size from about 1 to around 2.5 metres high and also displays at least six distinct leaf shapes, from large and oval to long and narrow. The colour combinations are almost as wide-ranging as names that have been given to the numerous hybrids.
Asplenium nidus - Bird's nest fren  Cuphea - False Heather Codiaeum variegatum - Croton

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All the pictures on this page have been taken at "The Farm", a private property, hidden in Koh Phangan, inhabited by charming nature lovers, we would like to thank a lot for their help.

If you want to know more about tropical plants, read these interesting books:

Tropical Orchids of Thailand & SE Asia
Tropical Flowers of Thailand
Growing Orchids
The complete Encyclopedia of Orchids
Tropical Garden Plants

David P. Banks
W. Warren & L. Invernizzi Tettoni
Brian & Wilma Rittershausen
Zdenek jezek
W. Warren & L. Invernizzi Tettoni
  Asia Books
Rebo Publishers
Thames & Hudson
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