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Pretty Petals-Chiang Mai in Bloom

Pretty Petals

Thailand is one of the largest countries in South East Asia that has a tropical, wet climate which enables it to grow an impressive variety of native flora and fauna.
The country is thought to have almost as many plant species as Europe, all crammed into a country the size of France. Unfortunately, a majority of Thailand's plant biodiversity falls within the heavily endangered category. In an attempt to protect its native endangered plant species of the land and ocean, the country has signed a number of environmental contracts. It has also converted about 13 percent of its land and sea area into natural reserves. Flowers such as orchids, thai lotus, tacca chantrieri, rhizomatous perennial and hidden lily are some of the popular native flowers of Thailand. Others, such as orange trumpet, hibiscus, crinium, weeping lantana and canna lily are grown in the country and can be easily found. Chiang Mai is also call "The Rose of the North", because it is famous for its array of beautiful flowers, especially during this time of the year. Many rare species of plants thrive along nature trails in the mountain, while others beautiful flowers can be seen within the city walls. If you are a flower lover, read the story behind these eight most common flowers that you can see during your visit in northern Thailand.

Ratchaphruek
The ratchaphruek flower (Cassia fistula Linn) is not only a Thai native flower but is also the national flower of the country. The yellow flower clusters grow on the ratchaphruek tree and the yellow color is symbolic of Buddhism and glory. The tree blooms between February and May and flowers are reflective of the harmony and unity of Thai people. The tree defoliates while the flowers are still blooming, hence leaving only the flowers on the branches. The flower is common throughout the country and is frequently seen growing along roadsides.

Thai Lotus
Perhaps one of the most popular flowers in Thailand, since this plant is a symbol of purity and innocence in Buddhism and can be found in all the shrines and temples. Originating sometimes in dirty and muddy water, the lotus is considered a pure and untainted flower. It is a symbol often portrayed in the applied arts of Thailand.
Apart from its flowers which are used as offerings, the lotus plant is useful in several other ways - the petals, stamens and roots of certain varieties have medicinal values. They are the major ingredients of various recipes prescribed by traditional herbalists. Almost every part of the lotus is edible: dried seeds boiled in syrup, sometimes with crushed ice, is a popular sweet; its root, cut into thin slices and boiled with pork ribs, is a delicious soup; the crisp young leaf and the long fleshy stem of the bua sai are also made into different tasty dishes; even the large leaf, which is too tough to eat, is sometimes used to wrap rice which, when steamed, absorbs the subtle aroma of the leaf.

Imperial Thai Delight
Imperial Thai Delight is such a distinctive Bougainvillea, you will never forget it! Bracts surrounding the true flower emerge as crisp white, and then from the edge they become more and more suffused with pink as they age. It can often be seen along Thai roads and flourishes all year round.

Orchids
There's more to the orchid than meets the eye. With a delicate sculptural beauty and historical rarity, these exotic blooms carry an unrivaled symbol of refinement, luxury and mystery. With more than 25,000 different types, orchids are the planet's largest group of blooming flowers and Thailand has the largest variety and number of orchids than anywhere else in Asia. Flowering mainly in the winter of Thailand, the best time to witness these exquisite flowers is during January. They can thrive without the need for soil and can live on the side of some of the most arid landscapes in Thailand. In traditional Chinese medicine, the orchid is used to help cure coughs and lung illness.

Frangipani
Jasmine is a very popular flower around the world, especially in the topics, because of its unique fragrance. It is believed to have originated in the Himalayas in Western China and most species are white while a few are yellow. There are at least 200 species of jasmine, several of which are grown in the country. In Thai language, this flower is called Mali. In Thailand, jasmine was chosen over roses as the symbol of Mother's Day which coincides with the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the mother of the nation. It stands for the pure, unconditional love that only a mother can give to her child. Nothing evokes that tropical feeling quite like the frangipani. Their sweet scent and sheer beauty make them universally loved and the blooms look sensational on the tree and as a cut flower. Pick up some freshly fallen blooms and float them in a bath or bowl of water and it is easy to feel that you are relaxing in a fabulous tropical day spa! Most familiar in their white and yellow form, they also come in loads of tropical and sunset colours, becoming more colourful the closer to the equator you go. Frangipanis are also tough plants that can survive neglect, heat and drought and still fill the garden with a wonderful perfume.

Heliconia Rostrata
Tropical flowers never fail to astound and amaze with their forms and colors, heliconia rostrata is no exception, with large, brightly hued bracts that cluster up a stem. There are about forty different species of heliconia. The leaves of this plant are paddle-shaped and they are related to the banana family. Heliconias are sometimes called "lobster claws" or "parrot flowers" because of their beak-like "bracts" which can be orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of these. A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower. The heliconia's flowers are tiny and found inside these bracts, which are so large and colorful that they almost hide the flower. This keeps the flower's sweet nectar tucked away so that only specialized birds can get to it. Some species of heliconia have upright facing flowers and in some called hanging heliconia, the flowers dangle down from the main stem.

Jasmine
Jasmine is a very popular flower around the world, especially in the topics, because of its unique fragrance. It is believed to have originated in the Himalayas in Western China and most species are white while a few are yellow. There are at least 200 species of jasmine, several of which are grown in the country. In Thai language, this flower is called Mali. In Thailand, jasmine was chosen over roses as the symbol of Mother's Day which coincides with the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the mother of the nation. It stands for the pure, unconditional love that only a mother can give to her child.

Zingiber Spectabilis
Zingiber spectabile, commonly known as Beehive Ginger, is a clumping herbaceous plant native to Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia. The scientific name of the species, zingiber spectabile, comes from two words: "Zingiber" comes from a sanskrit word meaning "shaped like a horn; and "spectabile" is derived from the latin spectabilis, meaning "spectacular". Apart from Beehive Ginger it is also known as Black Gingerwort, Champagne Beehive, Malaysian Ginger and Ginger Wort. In South-East Asia, it is used as medicinal herb.

The Flower Market
Visiting Tonlamyai Market, the flower market, is a fun and colourful activity. Located just next to Warorot Market, and close to Ping river, it is open 24 hours a day, with deliveries being made in the early hours of the morning. Seeing a little van packed full of piles of freshly cut orchids, and stalls bunching together hundreds of roses is a sight worth waking up for. Tonlamyai market is the only place to get fresh flowers in Central Chiang Mai and that is why many locals and visitors love photographing the stunning blooms. Visiting this market is a great activity and it is located only ten minutes walk from Thapae Gate.

Kamthieng Plant Market
A great market to wander through and discover a lot of tropical plants, flowers, outdoor pots and ornaments. There is also a large pet section where you can see some pretty impressive fishs.

Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
This is the one place to visit if you are a flower and plants lover. Situated about forty minutes from Chiang Mai city, this botanic garden is a true paradise, a manicured garden with so many birds and a live museum with thousands of plants, trees and flowers to discover. Established in the lush mountains of Mae Rim-Samoeng Road, this spectacular garden could not be in a more splendid setting. It covers an area of 6,500 acres and houses the glasshouse complex with eight display glasshouses where plants and flowers are grouped according to their environment. It also showcases a rock garden, a Thai Orchid Nursery, a waterfall, a Natural Science Museum and the
latest addition to this wonderful place is the Canopy Walkway from where you can picture and see the surrounding green mountains. A visit to The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden takes about half a day and there are many other activities to do in the surrounding area.

Ratchaphruek Garden
Nestled in a scenic and lush mountain landscape of 240,000 square meters, Ratchaphruek Gardens is only open during the winter season. It offers gardens with countless trees, plants and stunning flower displays. Visitors will also be impressed by the fantastic artwork and architecture throughout the park.

READY YOUR CAMERA AND WITNESS THE MOST FLOWERFUL EVENT OF THE YEAR.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival is one of the top three events held in Chiang Mai every year. This year it takes place from February 2rd to 4th, so we wanted to publish this event a a bit ahead, to make sure that everyone has time to plan a visit. The parade of flower floats is definitely an event not to be missed. It will run on the 4th February from Nawarat Bridge to Thapae Gate and then continue to Buak Hard Public Park where floats will be parked until the end of the day. The parade will start from 8am and will stop regularly to give everyone plenty of opportunities to take photographs. For this occasion, Suan Buak Hat Park will be the center of an amazing flower exhibition, with the street open only to pedestrian traffic and more than fifty flower exhibits. In the evening, starting from 8pm, the Miss Flora beauty pageant will be held andone woman will be crowned queen of the 2018 Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Another event not to miss during this festival is the Bonsai Trees Exhibition, which will take place during three days at Suan Buak Hat Park. A total of forty bonsai are shown, some costing hundreds of thousand Baht. So, ready your camera gear and dust off your picnic mat for the most spectacular floral extravaganza in Thailand. Picture taken at Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden

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