Life in Vietnam

Tuesday, 23/04/2024 09:39

Flower Season Is Full Bloom In Sơn Trà Forest


 By Vĩnh Quyền

A magnificent and poetic scene. For a moment, it is difficult to grasp the splendour yet simplicity of the natural world. This is, of course, flower season in Sơn Trà Nature Reserve, which takes place from late March to mid-May each year. In the last week of March, the thirty kilometre road passing through Sơn Trà forest livens up completely. Besides about two dozen photographers – "permanent residents" of Sơn Trà who specialize in photographing Red-Shanked Doucs – a large seasonal group also joins in.


Visitors arrive when the forest is still green, as no one wants to miss the moment when the first flower buds bloom. Then, one morning, the wait is over. Everyone is excited to welcome the flower season, which opens with Lim Vàng/ yellow flame trees/ Peltophorum pterocarpum. Within just a few days, their dense canopies resemble a garden of apricot blossoms twenty-five meters high. The shape and colour of these two flowers are remarkably similar.


In the last days of April, the prelude of Lim Vàng flowers is overlapped by Thàn Mát/ Millettia Ichthyochtonaflowers, the most impressive flower in Sơn Trà. They dye the forest purple for nearly two weeks. Right before they appear, a Thàn Mát tree's carpet of leaves will display a dynamic colour palette: from blue-green to yellow-orange, then magenta-crimson. All of these colours easily blend with the bright blue backdrop of ocean and sky.


The natural scene of changing colours is reminiscent of Levitan's paintings of spring. However, like the painter himself, Sơn Trà's life as a temperate forest is all too short-lived. Its ephemeral beauty means that in a few weeks all will return to the eternal green of the jungle. That is why during this time so many photographers and tourists enter Sơn Trà Nature Reserve before sunrise and leave only after sunset. Rejoice and regret.

The sound of camera shutters rings out continuously. Especially for wildlife photographers, a landscape is just not enough; the presence of a Red-Shanked Douc, or at least a Red-Bellied Squirrel, is needed to complete the photo. Fortunately, both Lim Vàng and Thàn Mát flowers are favourite menu items of these creatures.

Eventually, the season of yellow and purple flowers fades, leaving an air of emptiness. Soon after, however, these same spectators will realise there is not a day in the year when Sơn Trà is without flowers, albeit fewer and more scattered, and each flower has a unique beauty. VNS

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