On what I walk to see...

"Objects do not have any intrinsic meaning- that meaning is conferred on them by us- and that different people, and the same person at different times, may confer different meanings on the same object." (Hammersley, 1989, p. 135)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Huge red five-petal flowers in Taiwan in the Spring? 木棉 (wood cotton) or Cotton tree

At the beginning of my walk today, I walked past the Zhongxiao Fuxing station where I saw this lady holder a big red flower fallen from the tree...  It seems like she had a question to ask but no one stopped for her (The reason why the passersby didn't respond to her might have something to do with her asking the question in English and some people who know English might be too shy to respond).  I stopped to see whether whether there was anything I could help her with.  Ended up, she wanted to know what the tree that bears the huge flower was called... and the gentleman and the lady are visitors from Finland.  (Wow... Hello, Finland!)

It was very unfortunate that I only know the name of the tree in Chinese due to limited my English proficiency...  I wrote the name of the tree down on a piece of paper for them so that they can google it up... only to realize afterwards how chicken-and-egg that notion was... how are they are to google the words up if they don't know Chinese... (unless someone else knowing Chinese does it for them, I guess.) Unfortunately, that realization came too late since we had already bid each other farewell and walked towards our separate directions.

Since nothing is new under the sun and someone else' might have the same question, I decided to show you here what the tree and flowers look like... in case you have the same question when traveling in tropical areas such as Taiwan, Southern China or south Asian.

The flower that Finish lady was interested in is called 木棉花 (Wood Cotton Flower) and the tree is called 木棉樹 (Wood Cotton tree).  It's official English name, though, is Cotton tree with Bombax ceiba as the binomial name.  It is a tropical tree and is deciduous in the winter.  The flowers come out at around March and April before the new foliage.  Based on my observation, the flowers are not necessarily red... some of the trees actually bear flowers that look more orange than red.

The blossoms form capsules, which contain cotton-like fibers when ripe... and, if walking around in town during that time, you actually would see cotton-like fibers floating around in the air.

Though there is no way for me to relay what I found to these two Finish visitors in Taipei, hope this might help someone else with the same question... "What are those huge redish or orange-ish flowers called?"

"木棉花 (Wood Cotton Flowers) or Flowers/blossoms of Cotton tree."

Though it is highly unlikely that I will be asked the same question twice, at least I know now shall someone ask me the same question next time (especially after I generated all them mumble jumbles for two simple words "Cotton tree"... while, en route, I learn to describe a plant in English and learned to use words like binomial, deciduous in this context... lol)

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