Trees and Hong Kong: An Unexpected Combo

I love walking around the eclectic streets of Hong Kong. Some parts are as commercial and packed with people as you’d imagine. To my surprise, others are empty. I like peering into all the shops, restaurants and cafes along the way. But my favorite thing is stumbling upon amazing Hong Kong trees. Like this:

Chinese Banyan Tree in Hong Kong's Blake Gardens
Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa) tree in Blake Gardens, a small (and possibly the first) public park in Hong Kong. Although Chinese banyans are ubiquitous among Hong Kong trees, the shape of this tree trunk is a unique example.

Or this one:

Hibiscus Tree in Hong Kong's Kowloon Park
Flowering tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) near southwest entrance to Kowloon Park in Hong Kong. This species does not flower until summer. Even in spring, it’s convoluted shape caught our attention.

Hong Kong Trees in Urban Parks

Speaking of finding nature, you don’t need to walk too long before entering a park. One of the first days this happened to us, we walked right into the zoo by accident. As we wander around Central and Kowloon—very dense areas of the city—I am surprised to see so many parks. I even started keeping track. Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens is on my list. So are Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, Kowloon and Victoria Parks. I’ve only mentioned the big ones. My list doesn’t include the parks we had to make some effort to get to, like Victoria Peak. Gardens associated with temples, like the Chi Lin Nunnery, are also missing. I’ve covered bonafide hiking trails in Hong Kong as a separate post. And yes, everything I’ve mentioned here is free to visit.

Ficus Tree in Hong Kong's historical Kowloon Walled City Park
Ficus tree near the south gate of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City Park, near a scale model and shadow wall (on the right) depicting the walled city prior to demolition in 1993.

Water Feature in Hong Kong Park
Hong Kong Park is a large, urban park right in the center of the city. It has artificial lakes and waterfalls as well as many trees and lush vegetation.

The Quintessential Hong Kong Tree

I’ve learned there are close to 500 Hong Kong trees registered as “old and valuable.” About 50% of them are Chinese banyan trees. But a small percentage are another species of Ficus: the Indian rubber tree. While not native, they are captivating with their many once-hanging roots providing support.

Indian Rubber Tree on Hong Kong's Victoria Peak
A collection of Indian rubber trees (Ficus elastica) makes an imposing presence along Lugard Road (Hong Kong Trail Section 1) to Victoria Peak.

According to one local we talked to, residents feel there are not enough parks in the city. But for me, as our explorations lead us into yet another park full of eye-catching trees, I’m left wondering. Why am I surrounded by more green space in Hong Kong than in the urban core of Seattle, a city with half the population density?

4 Replies

    • Good eye, Norma! We actually took that photo in the first place because of the bird, but then I thought it wasn’t noticeable. I wish I knew what type it was. My bird knowledge is even worse than my tree knowledge.

  • Beautiful photos! Your comment that “nature is abundant” even in the urban areas in Hong King is (somewhat surprisingly) evident. The giant hibiscus looks like a ~500 year old bonsai!

    • To be fair, all the photos here were taken in Hong Kong’s (many) parks. But along some streets, there are retaining walls with huge trees growing out of them through the cracks. The streets are narrow enough I didn’t get any good photos. If you google it though, you’ll see some amazing examples.

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