Rehderodendron kwangtungense

Plants & Us

Bidding farewell to the long, rigorous dry season this year, the steady drizzle of March is just enough to prod the sprout of seeds and pique the first blooms of Spring.

This year, our Rehderodendron kwangtungense has rushed to steal the thunder of many others. The species is endemic to China, where Hong Kong is its southern-most distribution. Described by German dendrologist Johann Gerd Krüssmann in 1986 as the “most decorative species of the genus”, it is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 15 m tall. The attractive snow-white flowers make it a very popular ornamental garden plant. Hong Kong plant lovers can admire its florescence from March to April - we suggest you head over to the path opposite KFBG’s wildlife pond for an incredible show that is impossible to overlook.

On top of illegal wild collection, its small population size appears to reflect a low pollinator visitation and seed germination rates. The species is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List and, in Hong Kong, it is protected under Cap 96 of the Forestry Regulations– collection of any part of the plant is prohibited.

Some might have questions regarding its Chinese name, which roughly translates as Guangdong papaya. The reason for this is the shape of its fruits, which resemble a papaya when mature! You can judge for yourself from July to September during its fruiting period.

This particular individual was propagated by our staff over 15 years ago using seeds from the mother tree in Orchid Haven.