Today’s photo and entry once again come from the camera and pen of Douglas Justice.
As a person fascinated with plants of all kinds—though admittedly, I’m more familiar with temperate plants—I couldn’t help but be impressed with the range of tropical and subtropical plants at the South China Botanical Garden, where I attended the Second International Magnolia Symposium this past May. I should confess, too, that woody plants, especially trees, are my great passion. Leaving magnolias aside, one of the most beautiful groups I saw in the garden was the Elaeocarpus collection. The tree pictured is about 5 m tall and about as wide. Each and every branch was festooned with sweetly scented cream and white flowers. The overall effect of the fringed blooms against the glossy, deep green leaves was exceptionally beautiful. In all, I saw some five distinct species, though there were probably many more in the collection.
The name hainanensis indicates that this species is found on Hainan Island, off the south coast of China (it also occurs on the adjacent mainland and in Indochina). Although unlabeled, the species resembled other trees of E. hainanensis, so this is the name I’ve provisionally given to it; as there are about 350 species in the genus, however, I’m just as likely to be wrong about the identification. I strongly suspect that many species are grown as ornamentals because of their clean, evergreen foliage and their great beauty when in flower.