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  • LIFESTYLE

    Worthy of a name

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 04/12/2016

    » Piya Chalermglin, PhD, intrepid plant explorer and extraordinary researcher at the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, recently retired. He spent 20 years of his career surveying the country's plant genetic resources, particularly Magnoliales, which includes the custard apple family Annonaceae and the magnolia family Magnoliaceae. In the process, he earned the distinction of having discovered 17 species new to science, joining the likes of famous botanist Carl Linnaeus and other plant explorers who immortalised their names by inspiring the names of some plants.

  • LIFESTYLE

    A seasonal treat

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 06/04/2014

    » I posted a picture of Manila tamarind from the recent Kaset Fair on Facebook, and was surprised at the response it received from my Filipino friends. Many were nostalgic for the fruit, and lamented that they haven’t tasted it for decades. Many of my friends and former classmates have migrated to various parts of the world, so this is understandable; the fruit is seasonal and no one has found a way to preserve it. Unless they visit the Philippines or Thailand when it is in season, they won’t be able to eat it. What is surprising is that even those who live in the Philippines said they haven’t seen it for years.

  • LIFESTYLE

    A flora in the system

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 08/12/2013

    » A reader writing under the pseudonym ''Mrs Clover'' bought a passiflora with flowers a few months ago. ''At the moment the plant is very healthy with lots and lots of leaves, but no flowers,'' she wrote. ''As suggested by the seller, I apply fertiliser once a week, but it doesn't work. Your advice would be most appreciated.''

  • LIFESTYLE

    Blowing away the arguments against big trees in Bangkok

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 21/07/2013

    » Last week's column on Pterocarpus indicus, or pradoo, in bloom on Rama IV Road made me pay closer attention to trees along Bangkok's streets. Five days a week I have to fetch my grandson from school in the Dusit area, and from my gate near Suan Phlu to the school, I pass by many trees along the way.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Look at leaves on plants with no flower power

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 02/06/2013

    » Some plants have beautiful leaves to compensate for their lack of flowers. Codiaeum variegatum, commonly called croton, is among the first that come to mind. Known in Thai as koson, they have leaves that are multi-coloured, or blotched and speckled in many different patterns.

  • LIFESTYLE

    For beauty and variety, it's fern, baby fern

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 28/04/2013

    » Some plants are grown because they have beautiful flowers, yet there are plants which are treasured even when they never bloom. Ferns belong to the latter category; plant fanciers love them because they are decorative, add freshness to their surroundings, and give a feeling of coolness even during the height of summer. Thailand has more than 700 species of fern, which come in many different forms, so you never run out of new ones to add to your collection. What's more, some ferns form mutations that can at times bear little or no resemblance to the mother plant, which adds to the excitement of growing them.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Rising rental fees could cause premier plant expo to wither

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 20/01/2013

    » The annual agricultural fair at Kasetsart University's Bang Khen campus is coming up this Feb 1-9, and if you are looking for improved varieties of fruit trees to plant, you are likely to find them there. Last year's offerings included edible fig and Indian gooseberry, or emblic, with fruit as big as your big toe instead of your thumb. There were also mangoes that weighed one kilogramme or more each, jackfruit with red flesh instead of the traditional golden yellow or yellow orange, sapodilla with fruit the size of Vietnamese guava, marian plum or maprang with fruit the size of a hen's egg, dwarf coconuts that bear 30 to 50 fruit per bunch, bananas with metre-long bunches of fruit with hands bearing up to 21 fingers instead of the usual 12 to 14, limes with fruit as big as golf balls, and many others. Either the actual fruit or photos of them were shown, so that buyers would have an idea of what to expect from the trees.

  • LIFESTYLE

    The virtues of vegging out

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 10/06/2012

    » South Korea is one of the most affluent countries in Asia, however old habits die hard and many of the country's citizens still tend to backyard vegetable gardens just as their forebears did decades ago. My daughter, Nalinee, who is now in Yeosu, South Korea, observed that locals there ''like to grow vegetables in containers in their backyards or in vacant lots near their houses. The soil does not look fertile yet the plants grow very well.''

  • LIFESTYLE

    Get ready to feel the burn

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 17/06/2012

    » In response to the May 27 ''Green Fingers'' article on chillies, Bhagat N wrote to ask what could be the reason why his bhut jolokia plant is not bearing fruit even though it is full of flowers. ''I live in Bangkok and I brought the plant from Manipur,'' he wrote.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Plant yourself at chatuchak

    Brunch, Normita Thongtham, Published on 06/05/2012

    » Areader wrote to ask where she could purchase seeds of the vegetable and herbs mentioned in ''Grow your own'' (''Green Fingers'', April 1). The article was about a couple, Rawat and Orawan Chomsri, who now grow herbs like holy basil, sweet basil and hairy basil as well as a green leafy vegetable called kwang toong in their backyard after finding these in short supply during the floods. To ensure I gave the right answer, I went to the Chatuchak plant market _ and found more than just vegetable and herb seeds.

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