North Thailand Plants

North Thailand Plants is a collection of plants that are prevalent in our area. Some of these you might encounter during your trip in North Thailand.

Bird’s nest fern or Asplenium nidus

The Bird’s-nest fern is a common name applied to several related species of epiphytic ferns. They grow in a tight, nest-like clump with a lingulate leaf rosette and are usually epiphytic, growing in trees. Epiphytes grow on other plants for physical support and do not necessarily negatively affect the host. They are not parasites. You can also call them “air plants”, which is a nice nickname.

In Western countries, this fern is famous as an ornamental plant in people’s homes. You will see them often on your trekking, usually on trees. I have seen them in the Huay Nam Dang National park.

Green fern plant
Bird’s Nest Fern

Torch Ginger

Cassumunar ginger or torch ginger is a species of plant in the ginger family. It is called Phlai in Thailand. You will likely encounter these beautiful flowers during your trip as they grow in the forests of northern Thailand. They are grown throughout tropical South East Asia for the spectacular flowers and food. The stems of the flowers are chopped up and added to curries or soups with rice noodles. You will probably be able to observe a variety of ginger in Doi Inthanon National Park. Other national parks where you can spot these lovely flowers are Doi Suthep-Doi Pui and Huay Nam Dang National Parks.

Red ginger flower Mae Wang
Ginger flower in Mae Wang
Small red flower
Ginger flower Huay Nam Dang National Park

Balloon plant

Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as hairy balls, balloon plant, balloon cotton-bush, bishop’s balls, nailhead, or swan plant, is a species of milkweed. The plant is native to southeast Africa, but it’s prevalent on Doi Inthanon National Park. It is an ornamental plant. The name “hairy balls” is an allusion to the swelling testicle-like follicles which are full of seeds. They grow at higher altitude, usually above 1000 meters. I took this pictures in the Hmong village Ban Chang Kien on Doi Suthep.

Green ball plants
Balloon plant on Doi Pui

Elephant Ear

Elephant ears are water-loving plants. They need at least moist, organically fertile soil, but consistently moist soil is preferable, especially in warm months. You can decrease your watering schedule for the plants in winter when they don’t need as much water as they do other times of the year. These are really spectacular plants. Below picture I took in Mae Wang National park. There are several types of Elephant Ear. This is the Alocasia macrorrhiza Odora, a species with upright leaves.

Large green leaves
Elephant Ear

Elkhorn Fern

Platycerium bifurcatum is the Latin name for the elkhorn fern or common staghorn fern. This a species of fern native to Southeast Asia and Australia. It is an air plant or epiphyte. It is a very common sight in national parks in North Thailand. I took this picture in Huay Nam Dang National Park during our trekking there.

Tree ferns Huay Nam Dang National Park
Elkhorn Fern Huay Nam Dang National Park