Spring is great time for trees and flowers.
A blossom typical of spring in Việt Nam is Hoa Gạo (literally rice flower in English), also known as Mộc Miên or Pơ Lang (bombax ceiba in Latin).
A gạo tree by a communal house in the northern province of Ninh Bình. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
The blossoms have five big petals, and bloom in March and April when it gets warmer with the spring rain.
The bright red blossoms on high bare branches offer up a brilliant scene in the northern countryside.
The bright red blossoms brighten up spring days. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
The big blossom come out almost at once, turning trees into living flames. The blossoms remain on the branches for few weeks before falling off, giving way to new leaves.
Big blossoms on the branches. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
The trees are planted widely in villages. Images of Gạo trees growing by communal houses, temples, pagodas and on dykes surrounded by rice fields have become popular in photos, paintings, songs and literature.
A Gạo tree at the National Museum of Vietnamese History in downtown Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Trương Vị
The species is believed to originate from India, from where it was brought to Malaysia, southern China and Việt Nam.
Elder Vũ Hà Phương from Ninh Bình Province said that the tree’s name reflects the simple thoughts of Vietnamese farmers.
People often take photos by gạo trees. — VNS Photo Trương Vị
“They bloom in March, often the transitional period for crops, when people lack rice,” he said. “The name Gạo (rice) symbolises the farmers’ hope for a bumper rice crop and a prosperous life.”
To many people, the trees have become the spirit of Vietnamese villages.
The trees are regarded as the spirit of the Vietnamese countryside. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
“Looking at Gạo blossoms, I feel peace and joy,” said photographer Lê Vinh, who has taken many photos of the trees. “My friends and I often visit places with the most beautiful Gạo trees to take pictures. The old trees often stand high and firm, a really significant scene for photographers.”
This month, travelling along the country, “flaming trees” can be seen in many villages, including Hà Giang's forests, by communal houses in Ninh Bình Province, in the middle of rice fields in Thái Bình Province and on the outskirts of Hà Nội. — VNS