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Koh Phangan Koh Samui

In Koh Samui it is not just about long white sanded beaches and big holiday resorts, it is also nature. Even if the island counts many buildings and real estate developments, the nature still covers most of the island. 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 Samui.

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. The orchid family for example, is the largest of the flower kingdom, with more than 35,000 wild species and as many hybrids, and the Thaïs love them very much (it is, by the way, the emblem of Thaï Airways) and you will find many of them around here, among many other tropical flowers, in plant pot, gardens or in the wild.

You can also check the Phangan section for information and pictures about Tropical Ornamental Trees, Fruit Trees, Palms and Palm-Like Plants, and Foliage Plants.


A wide range of environments, from the seashore to the high alpine line, provide habitats for indigenous orchids. Within this global distribution, we find some 25,000 to 30,000 species. Since the beginning of modern plant classification, started by the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in 1758, to the present day, taxonomists have continued to classify and reclassify existing species, as well as describing new ones. Every year, from some corner of world, come new discoveries of orchid species. In addition to the vast number of species, there are some 100,000 man-made hybrids. So great is the variation, it seems unbelievable that they can belong to the same family of plants, which are classified according to the structure of their flowers and their resemblance to one another.

 AERIDES * Left picture
The name AERIDES means air-plant. About 20 species belong to this genus of monopodial epiphytes. Most species are easy to grow and have highly perfumed flowers. AERIDES ODORATA is variable in colour, from deep pink to pure white, and is widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia. AERIDES QUINQUEVULNERA is from Philippines and New Guinea. AERIDES ROSEA, from Northern Thailand, was formerly well known as AERIDES FIELDINGI.Many hydrids have been made between AERIDES and other members of what are loosely termed the "vandaceous" family.

 ONCIDIUM * Right picture
Among the 400 or so ONCIDIUM species are many extremely varied plants, which range from diminutive equitants - small, fan-like, foliage plants with brightly coloured flowers - to large-bulbed, long-spiked beauties such as ONCODIUM MACRANTHUM. In between, are numerous, delightful plants of modest size with brightly coloured blooms which are predominantly yellow.
Height : 15-30 cm (6-12in).
Aerides Odorata  Oncidium
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the natural genus of PHALAENOPSIS is made up of almost 50 species, originating from the Old World through India, South-east Asia, Indonesia and parts of Australia. Most are evergreen epiphytic plants. Many hybrids have been produced from the wild species. It is arguably the most important commercial genus of orchids in the world.
Heigh : 15 cm (6in)
Phalaenopsis  Phalaenopsis

CATTLEYAS form part of a huge alliance comprising many other related orchids, the best known of the natural genera being Laelia, Brassavola, Sophronitis and Encyclia. The species in the alliance originate from Central and South America, and in the genus CATTLEYA, there are about 50 species. Most of these are rare in the wild and are found in cultivation in specialist collections, where they have been raised in nurseries from select clones. Hybrids can be counted in their thousands.
Heigh : 15 cm (6in) or less to 45 cm (18in) and above.
There are about 50 species of LAELIA, which are found throughout Central and South America, with a high concentration in Mexico. All the species are lovely and extremely showy. The genus is closely related to CATTLEYA, and the plants are sometimes difficult to tell apart. From the early days of hybridizing, LAELIA were crossed with CATTLEYA to such an extend that there are more LAELIOCATTLEYA than interspecific hybrids.
Heigh : 15-100 cm (6-36in).
Cattleya Andean Mist  Laetiocattleya

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The genus DENDROBIUM, with in excess of 1500 species, has always been popular with orchid growers. It enjoy a wide distribution, from India and Sri Lanka, though Southeast Asia to New Guinea, Australia and the Pacific Islands. An amazing diversity of plant habit, flower form and colour is found in this large genus. Almost all colors and combinations are represented in its flowers. Many hybrids have been developed in tropical countries, for both orchid enthusiasts and the cut flower industry. These hydrids were bred to produce plants which continue to flower off the old pseudobulbs, as well as the new growths throughout the year.
Heigh : 15-45 cm (6-18in)
Dendrobium Hybrid  Dendrobium Hybrid Dendrobium Hybrid

VANDA are a natural genus of over 30 species originating from a wide area of the Old World, from India, South-east Asia and Indonesia to the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia. This is one of most important genera of plants for cut flower production in Thailand. A large export industry has developed using a handful of species in an extensive hybridising program. VANDA are often seen grown in large outdoor beds in lowland botanical gardens, such as those in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Heigh : 30-100 cm (12-36in)
Vanda  Vanda Vanda

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The first Southeast Asian gardens, in the Western sense of the term, were those planted around royal palaces and Buddhist or Hindu temples. From written accounts, we know that these included trees and shrubs sometimes selected purely for their ornamental qualities but more often because of their symbolic associations and use in ceremonies. In the earliest days the plants were nearly all native to the region, but these were later joined by countless introduced specimens, to such an extend that few, if any, of the surviving landscapes bear much resemblance to their original composition. The gardens of ordinary homes were similarly prescribed by tradition, serving utilitarian rather than decorative aims. The majority of the specimens produced edible fruits or leaves and roots that could be used in cooking or traditional medicine. All this began to change with the arrival of outsiders, mainly Europeans, who brought with them not only new concepts of garden design but also new ornamentals to enhance them. The movement of plant materials around the world during the past 500 years is an extraordinary story, nowhere more so than in tropical regions where the climate enabled introduced species to become established within a short time.

 ADENIUM OBESUM (Desert Rose) * Left picture
A member of the same botanical family as the Frangipani, it is, in fact, sometimes called the Japanese Frangipani. Adenium is a small treelet native to arid East Africa and Arabia, reaching a height of about 1 m. Intolerant of damp conditions, Adenium is usually seen grown as a pot plant in Southeast Asia. When cut, exudes a poisonous latex.

 ALLAMANDA (Golden Trumpet) * Centre picture
Originally from Central and South America and named after the Brazilian naturalist Allamand. There are about twelve species of Allamanda, somme woody climbers and others more shrub-like in habit. With their glossy green leaves and almost continuous display of bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers, they are among the most popular of tropical ornamentals. Allamanda Violacea has pale mauve blooms. All parts of the plant, incliding its milky sap, are toxic.

 GLORIOSA SUPERBA (Glory lily - Climbing lily) * Right picture
A native of tropical Africa, this is a very ornamental little vine which climbs by means of tendrils at the ends of its long, blade-shaped leaves. The lily-like flowers consist of six narrow red-and-orange petals with crinkled edges, curving puward in a cluster, and six prominent stamens projecting below. The plant grows from underground tubers and may die back from time to time.
Adenium  Allamanda Gloriosa superba - Glory lily - climbing lily

Named after Louis de Bougainville, a French navigator who first came across it in Brazil during the 18th century, Bougainvillea now lends brillant splashes of color throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world, from the beaches of Bali to the Mediterranean. The "flowers" are actually colored bracts, each of which carries an insignificant true white flower at its base. Purple or magenta are the most common Bougainvillea colors, but other hues may range from pure white to orange to rich crimson. Some hybrids have two colors on the same plant and are known as "rainbow" Bougainvillea.
Bougainvillea  Bougainvillea Bougainvillea

If any single plant had to be selected as emblematic of the tropics, it would very likely be Hibiscus, the flowers of which brighten gardens from Bali to Florida. The genus contains some 200 species, found in both temperate and tropical area, but the most commonly grown is Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis. Some authorities believe this to be a native of China. Hibiscus flowers range in size from small to enormous (some as much as 20 or 30 cm in diameter), occur in both single and double forms, and come in almost every color, from pure white through yellow and pink to rubyred.
Hibiscus  Hibiscus Schizopetalus Hibiscus Hibiscus

 LANTANA CAMARA (Lantana) * Left picture
Though Lantana is native to South America, it was an early introduction elsewhere in the torpical world, where it soon escaped the confines of gardens and became a weed. Lantana camara is a prickly shrub, about 1 meter in height, with ovate rough leaves and almost continuous displays of blooms that appear as clusters made up of tiny florets. Orange or red-orange are the commonest colours, but there are cultivars with larger white, pink, or lemon-yellow flowers.

 CAESALPINIA PULCHERRIMA (Peacock flower) * Centre picture
This attractive treelet, which probably originated in South America, is sometimes called the Dwarf Poinciana or Dwarf Flame tree due to the resemblence of its flowers and bipinnate leaves to those of Delonix regia. They are indeed related botanically, but Caesalpina is a distinct species which grows only to a height of about 3 meters, retains its leaves year-round, and blooms almost continuously. The most common flower color is red-orange, sometimes with a yellow margin, but one variety has pure yellow flowers and on other they are strawberry-colored.

 GARDENIA * Right picture
Regarded almost as an emblem of the tropics, the intensely fragant Gardenia is a native of South China, a bushy shrub that can grow up to 3 m, but is usually kept smaller by pruning. It has glossy green oval leaves and pure-white flowers, double in the variety most commonly seen in Southeast Asian gardens. One form has variegated, green-and-white leaves, and there is also a dwarf variety that is somewhay more temperamental and thus often grown as a pot plant. Another species is Gardenia carinata, the Malaysian Tree Gardenia, which can grow to 10m high.
Lantana camara - Lantana  Peacock Flower Gardenia

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 IXORA (Ixora sp.) * Left picture
Ixora (from the name of an Indian deity) is a genus about 400 species native to India and tropical Africa. Ixora is one of the most popular garden plants all over Southeast Asia. Its flowers, which occur in clusters of many as 60 at the ends of the branches, are found in a wide range of colors and it may be either dwarf or quite large. Ixora finlaysoniana, native to Thailand, is quite large, almost a small tree, and has fragant white flowers.

 QUISQUALIS INDICA (Rangoon creeper) * Centre picture
This vigorous climber, native to Southeast Asia, is most often seen growing over pergolas or walls. It is also sometimes popularly called Drunken Sailors, possibly a reference to the way the flowers bob up and down in a strong wind. Several times a year it produces clusters of small, fragant flowers which start off white and then turn pink or crimson as they grow older.

 HELICONIA * Right picture
Heliconia are native to the American tropics. Growing from rhizomes, they have erect shoots, each composed of a stem and leaves and often terminated by an inflorescense of frequently brilliant color which comes from the bracts rather than the actual flower. There are dwarf Heliconia, medium-sized ones, and giants that can reach several meters or more. Approximately 250 species and almost as many forms or cultivars have been identified.
Ixora  Rangoon Creeper - Quiqualis indica Helicania

 GOLDEN DEWDROP (Duranta erecta) * Left picture
This tall shrub, seen in many gardens, receives its popular name from the small, yellow-orange berries that follow the flowers, in such quantities that they cause the slender branches to droop gracefully. The flowers are either white or a delicate lilac-blue and often appear in combination with the berries. A native of tropical America introduced to Southeast Asia in relatively recent years, the shrub may grow several meters tall but is generally smaller.

 WRIGHTIA RELIGIOSA * Centre picture
This is a medium-sized shrub, up to 2 meters tall, from Thailand and Malaysia, with slightly pendulous branches, small oval leaves, and frequent clusters of small fragant white flowers. In Thailand, it is often planted in the gardens of Buddhist temples.

 TECOMARIA CAPENSIS (Cape Honeysuckle) * Right picture
Sometimes now listed as Tecomaria capensis this is a sprawling plant that, if left unpruned, puts out long stems and becomes almost a vine that needs some kind of support. Native of South Africa, it has attractive, light green foliage and frequent displays of long, tubular flowers that may be yellow or bright orange.
Golden Dewdrop - Duranta erecta  Wrightia religiosa Tecomaria capensis - Cape Honeysuckle

 CLERODENDRUM PANICULATUM (Pagoda flower - Quezonia) * Left picture
Clerodendrum is a large genus with nearly 400 species that include trees, shrubs, and climbers, several of them frequently seen in tropical gardens. Clerodendrum paniculatum, native to Southeast Asia, is popularly known as the Pagoda Flower because its red-orange flowers appera in a conical form around a spike that rises high above the glossy five-lobed leaves. It may grow to 3 meters but is usually kept pruned to a lower height.

 MUSSAENDA * Center left picture
Native to tropical Asia and Africa, Mussaenda is a small to large shrub with medium-sized oval leaves and prominent displays of colourful sepals surrounding small flowers.

 THUNBERGIA ERECTA (Sky vine - Blue trumpet) * Center right picture
Several of the best-known Thunbergia species are climbers, but this native of tropical Africa is a sprawling shrub, very useful in mixed beds or as a low hedge. It has attractive, small, dark green leaves and tubular flowers which in the most common form are rich purple with a yellow throat, there is also a white-flowering form, which seems to have smaller leaves and is somewhat less robust.

 JASMINUM REX (Royal jasmine) * Left picture
Jasmines include both shrubs and climbers, some of which can be grown even in cool regions. Jasminum rex, or Royal jasmine, is native to Thailand and although not fragrant produces very large, star-shaped flowers.
Clerodendrum paniculatum - Pagoda flower  Mussaenda - Thunbergia erecta  Jasminum rex - Royal jasmine

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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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