Taiwan's Tung Blossoms: Take Time out to Appreciate the Flowers

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Thursday May 07, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

From mid-April to mid-May, in central and northern Taiwan, the mountains come alive with the blossoming of the Tung tree. This fast-growing tree (genus paulownia) has been imported to Taiwan from China and prospered here. Not needing much water, it is a good economical tree known for its lumber and seeds and of course the beauty of its blossoms.

Since the Hakka often dwelt in the mountains, the Tung tree has become one of their cultural symbols. Its straight sturdy trunk is associated with the Hakka spirit of patience and hard work, while the white Tung blossom is linked to their purity of spirit. Even the seeds, which when squeezed provide a cash crop of water-resistant oil, have become the base for the oil paper umbrella, a Hakka art form.

While we often talk of more serious fare here, we should always take time to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature. Some photos are therefore available; either click on the heading "Another Side" on the left side of my website and find the album for Tung Hua Blossoms or click here. These particular photos were taken outside Taipei in the mountains near Yongning. We hope that they will bring some happy memories to Taiwanese who cannot return to their island country and homeland in the spring. Taiwan is your mother; remember her especially on the coming Mother's Day.