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The Floating Fragrance Intoxicating to Bees and Butterflies in Summer－Mori Cleyera
Mori Cleyera is classified to the family Theaceae and is an endemic evergreen tree species in Taiwan. In order to remember the name easily, someone kiddingly names it ‘gentleman red bean wheel pie’ which the pronunciation in Chinese is similar to the Chinese name of Mori Cleyera. The plant grows in plain and low altitude mountain areas in Taiwan and often be cultivated as street tree and garden tree. The wood density of Mori Cleyera is dense, so it could be used to make furniture, small implements, and handicrafts. Because it is easy to cultivate, tolerate to shade, robust, and has less pests and diseases, Mori Cleyera already becomes one of the most favorite greening tree species to the county (city) governments in Taiwan. It is also one of the species recommended by Environmental Protection Administration, EY in the air pollution control plan.
The plant type and leaf shape of Mori Cleyera and Marabutan are very similar. There is an easy way to distinguish the two species. The adult plant of Marabutan has aerial roots and leaves with white latex, and Mori Cleyera has young leaves with red colors and mature leaves without significant veins. However, the most important discrimination is that the flower of Mori Cleyera has five small petals with yellowish white colors and contains many stamens with slender filaments and brown anthers, making the whole flower looks like a white mouth of an alien emitting the gloriously radiant light (Fig. 1). Due to the light fragrance of the flowers, there is a pleasant smell all around blowing in the breeze when many flowers blossom together.
Because of the fragrance emitted by Mori Cleyera, lots of insects are attracted to gather the foods. Bees, butterflies, and beetles flying through the flowers for competing foods make a peculiar scene in summer (Fig. 2). The florescence period of this species is between May and July, and it blossoms mostly around the Dragon Boat Festival. Therefore, Mori Cleyera is one of the principal summer nectar plants. In recent years, some honey products made by the nectar collected from Mori Cleyera are launched successively in Taiwan. Hence, it is not merely an excellent tree species in our country. It also has multiple uses such as the production of honey that could increase the incomes of farmers. Under the global trends of increasing environmental awareness and afforestation activities, Mori Cleyera with the advantages referred above is indeed worthy of promotion.
▲Fig. 1 The yellowish white flowers of Mori Cleyera.
▲Fig. 2 The insects gather the nectar of Mori Cleyera as food.