Cat Tien is one of the four largest National Parks in Viet Nam. It is a pristine area with a rich and diverse ecosystem. Plant and animal species are free to grow and develop here. The park is home to 1,610 species of vascular plants, accounts for 61.96% of the total flora orders in Vietnam. Here, we cannot help but mention the Top 5 Rare Ancient Trees at Cat Tien National Park.
While nature bestows upon the park with a variety of rare and precious animals, she does not forget to create the rich flora present in the systems of large and small trees, shrubs, grasses and phytoplankton. The park is home to 1,610 species of woody plants and rare types of wood, such as Rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), Go do (Afzelia xylo carpa), Go mat (Sindora siamensis), Burma ironwood (Xylia xylocarpa), Burma Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus). These trees are precious for their durable wood, beautiful colours and wood grain.
Trees are historical witnesses to the daily variability of the earth, retaining in themselves the traces of time
Today, Cat Tien’s primary forests are among the last remaining places where visitors can still admire these
rare and precious trees. The trees here are well-known for their fancy appearance. This is because each species and each tree has its own unique shape. The more we study these trees, the more inquisitive we get.
Let’s learn with WANEE about the top 5 rare ancient trees at Cat Tien National Park. You will be truly surprised and fall in love with these ancient trees when observing them in the wild. What is special about them is not only the majesty of their trunks and branches but also the story they tell about time. These ancient trees are living witnesses of the past, carrying lasting and profound stories of survival and the power of nature.
Top 5 Rare Ancient Trees at Cat Tien National Park
Go do (Afzelia xylocarpa)
Go do (Afzelia xylocarpa), a tree species in the Fabaece family, is a large wooden tree with a straight, round shape. It grows up to 25-30 m high and is white-grey in colour with quite a rough bark. Go do (Afzelia xylocarpa) are low-branched trees, with oval shaped leaves of 5-6 cm that are pointed at the tip.
In general, Go do grows slowly and are usually distributed in evergreen or semi-deciduous forest. They often grow in topsoil layer, on flat terrain or drainage slopes. They love the light, bloom from March to April and fruit from October to November.
A hermaphrodite flower sprouts from the top of their branches and turns into a cluster of bean-shaped fruits. Bac Dong is a famous 700-year-old Go do in Cat Tien that is a favourite spot for tourists. It is almost 40 m tall with a diameter of 2.5 m. Go do (Afzelia xylocarpa) is vigorous and lives in harmony with surrounding plant populations. While they are classified as rare, Go Do is listed in the Viet Nam Red Data Book (2007) due to over-exploitation and on the IUCN World Red List – ranked Endangered (EN).
Da bop co (Ficus spp.)
Da bop co (Ficus sumatrana) are parasites that live on the trunks of host trees. After eating Da bop co’s fruits, mammals such as primates release seeds in their droppings onto host plants. When the necessary conditions are met, seeds germinate at the base of a host tree’s trunk. They quickly focus only on developing their root system, with parts of their tentacle-like roots plunging deep into the ground to form pillars. They start as small roots that then interweave and stick together to form traces like stitched winding cuts.
Over time, these stitched cuts fade and disappear, making the Cay da bop co (Ficus spp.) and its host look as though they are one tree. However, if you were to knock on the trunk with your hand, you would not hear a bass sound as you would with other trees. The sound of the Da bop co (Ficus suma trana) is more resonant and hollower because its trunk is actually made up of layers of roots.
With an extremely strong spatial invasiveness instinct, this species flexes its root coils like muscles. As they grow larger, they crush the host plant until it slowly dies. People call this species the ‘strangling Da bop co (Ficus sumatrana) or the ‘ungrateful Da bop co’.
Bang lang (Lythraceae)
Bang lang (Lythraceae) can be seen along the park’s trekking routes. This species has a broaden stump, a straight trunk and a yellowish-grey bark, which peels off in patches to form random patterns similar to those found on a gua-va trunk. Its flowers are white or purple in colour. Termites love to nest in and eat the trunk of this tree. As a common plant species, with its typical character istics and a high density, visitors to the park encounter them often as they wander through the forest.
The trees are often hollow; after many years of being eaten by termites, only the surrounding bark remains. But the trees survive. This demonstrates the miracle of ecological balance in nature where termites, which are harmful to plants, help to accelerate the decomposition of rotting trees into compost, creating nutrients to feed other plant species.
The niches made by termites are nested by other species such as snakes, weasels, pan golins, and bats. With their burrs, forming an assort-ment of count less strange shapes, the Bang lang (Lythraceae) often makes a strong first impression. They look different decked out in their own fashion. The wood grains in the trunk form amazing wavy, tangled patterns.
Benjamin fig (Ficus benjamina)
Benjamin fig (Ficus benjamina) in Cat Tien National Park is one of the outstanding features of the area. With countless roots embedding themselves firmly into a freshwater stream, the tree covers the entirety of the stream’s surface, casting the surrounding area in shade throughout the year. This Benjamin fig is about 400 years old and 8 m tall.
There is a natural water tank covering an area of more than 600 m2 right next to the hundred-trunk tree that receives pure spring water originating from the core of the primary forest, uncontaminated by chemical or by-products from people’s daily activities. After hiking or cycling, visitors to the park can stopover to relax, take a rest or camp. There is nothing more wonderful than being immersed in the water, listening to the babble of the stream, inhaling the fresh air, and taking in the scent of the forest.
Ancient Tung tree (Tetrameles nudiflora)
Ancient Tung tree (Tetrameles nudiflora) is a large tree whose leaves fall in the dry season. It often grows
in lowland areas in evergreen forests at a maximum altitude of 500-700 m above sea level. The trunk is grey and white in colour, 30-40 m in height, and with a diameter of up to 1 m it stands firmly on a buttress root block. Its timber is a very bright colour with a shiny surface, and as a result is often overexploited for the production of guitars, clogs, matches, wooden brushes, and cork.
The sturdy Ancient Tung tree has a very large trunk with giant roots that spread far and wide and float on the ground to maintain balance, forming strange shapes like pythons, snakes, and dinosaur tails. This is a favorite attraction of many tourists who visit Cat Tien, whether it is the first time or many times after that.
Some other special tree species at Cat Tien National Park
Bam bam (Entada phaseoloides) is a woody liana whose shape resembles a spring or chain. In some places it is known as the ‘iron chain’ plant.
The Bam bam (Entada phaseoloides) is common in the park and can be seen lying around the trunks of big trees or crawling on the ground, showing off their winding vines. They produce large fruits that look like giant beans.
Inside the fruit, round seeds that can reach up to 5 cm in diameter are arranged in rows. Indigenous people call the seeds lucky beans or peaceful beans, and often engrave their names on the fruit to pray for peace. The bark, seeds and leaves are used to make medicine to treat pain and seizures.
The vine has a bitter and acrid taste, its benefits include improved blood circulation and the treatment of rheumatism. Its seeds are commonly used by people for decorative purposes with the affectionate name “lucky bean seeds”.
Picture: Bam bam’s spiral roots (Source: WANEE)
There are other edible plant species that can be used for food, such as rattan shoots, buds of Bang lang (Lythraceae), and leaves of fig trees, etc.
Tour guides will introduce you to delicious fruits that can be found in the forest, such as fruits of the
Truong vai (Nephelium sp.) and Xoai rung (Mangifera minutifolia). Konia seeds (Irvingia malayana) are the most delicious and a favourite of upland people. The park is also home to Fabaceae family such as Dau ma (Pueraria phaseoloides) and a range of healthy forest vegetables such as Lac tien (Passiflora foetida), Nhip leaves (Gnetum gnemon).
Cat Tien National Park is an exceptional space to relish the beauty of ancient trees, leaving an indelible impression of the precious value in protecting and sustaining our diverse ecosystems.
These ancient trees in Cat Tien National Park are not only vivid witnesses to history but also symbols of the strength and resilience inherent in nature. Through this article, WANEE ASIA aspires to elevate and spread awareness about the importance of preserving and maintaining our diverse ecological systems.
Wishing you complete and fulfilling nature experiences!
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