Tabebuia



The Cherry Blossoms of Penang



Tabebuia is a beautiful roadside flowering tree in Penang, Malaysia. It produces flowers that range in colour from white to various shades of pink, and is often regarded as the "Cherry Blossoms of Penang". Incidentally, it blooms around between late February and early March, approximately one month earlier than the famous cherry blossoms of Japan. Having seen "the real thing" in Japan, I have to say that Tabebuia is just as pretty, if not more so.

When the Tabebuia is in full bloom, the whole tree can be covered with flowers, with little view of the leaves. The flowers are as thin and fragile as tissue paper, which results in another local nickname for the flowers, "pokok kertas tisu". Other common names for the Tabebuia includes Pink Poui, Rosy Trumpet Tree and Pink Tecoma. Foreign names for the tree includes Ipê and pau d'arco.

There are three varieties of Tabebuia, the pink, white and yellow, but only the pink variety, called Tabebuia rosea and the white variety, called Tabebuia alba, are commonly grown. The tree is often called Tecoma pentaphylla. However, according to Dato' Dr Leong Yueh Keong, director of the Socio-Economic & Environmental Research Institute (SERI), the name Tecoma pentaphylla, as reported in the newspapers, is incorrect, and refers to a different variety of flowering trees. Dr Leong further elaborated that the decision back then to plant Tabebuia was not so much due to its flowers, but because it is a fast growing tree.

The Tabebuia is native to Central and South America. Its range stretches from northern Mexico and the Antilles all the way to northern Argentina and Venezuela. They require a distinct dry season in order to burst into bloom, hence the stretch of hot, dry weather in Penang in mid February induced the trees to flower profusely.

Tabebuia can be found planted along the roadside in many places in Penang including along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (near the Sungai Nibong Express Bus Terminal), along Jalan Residensi, along Jalan Logan, and other parts of the island. The best place to view Tabebuia, however, are at Bayan Baru, especially along Persiaran Mahsuri, and parts of Jalan Mahsuri and Jalan Mayang Pasir 2. On the map, I show the sight where you can witness blooming Tabebuia in Penang. The blooms last only about a week, so you must get your timing right to see the most spectacular blooms.

The following are the photos of Tabebuia that I have shot at Persiaran Mahsuri on 22 February, 2008 and 12 March, 2009.

22 February 2008

    

    

12 March 2009

    

    


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