I started this entry as I sat underneath this tree in UBC Botanical Garden on a sunny, warm afternoon. Not bad for a place to do some work! I was left with no choice but to get some pictures after noticing the beautiful light hitting the tree and illuminating the flowers, leaves, and bees.
Tetradium glabrifolium is a tree species to 20m (65 ft.) of southeast Asia. It has the widest range of all Tetradium species; with China at the core, it reaches into the Himalayas, Japan, the Philippines, and Sumatra. Tetradium glabrifolium can be found in forested or open habitats, from sea level to 1200m (4000 ft.) in elevation.
Formerly known as Euodia glabrifolium, taxonomic re-assessment in the late 20th century moved this species to the genus Tetradium, along with some other Euodia species and close relatives in the Rutaceae (citrus family). The genus Tetradium now contains at least 9 species, all native to Asia.
This tree was a very lively environment on that warm late summer afternoon. There was an ambient buzzing noise from the thousands of bees of different species, all flying around the tree feeding from the flowers. The nectar of Tetradium flowers is prized by bees at the end of summer, when there are few other flowering plants providing this sugary need in such abundance. A close relative, Tetradium daniellii, is known as the “bee bee tree”. It is well-known for its ability to attract enormous numbers of bees, making it also of great value to beekeepers.
While Tetradium glabrifolium bears an essential food for one group of insects, it may carry the poison for another. Research has revealed that the essential oils of Tetradium glabrifolium have potential to be used as natural larvicide against Asian tiger mosquitoes. Presently, control of mosquito larvae is largely done using synthetic chemicals, with negative side effects impacting other organisms, food products, and worker safety. With further research, the oils of Tetradium glabrifolium may result in a superior mosquito control measure (with the associated benefits for human health).