The Beautiful Tung Blossoms in Taiwan

Tung blossoms are perceived as an icon of Hakka heritage in Taiwan. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)
Tung blossoms are perceived as an icon of Hakka heritage in Taiwan. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Like cherry blossoms, Tung blossoms (油桐花) are another amazing flower that is popular among the people of Taiwan. Every year from mid-April to mid-May when Tung blossoms are in full bloom, many hilltops across Taiwan are blanketed with the snow-white flowers of Tung trees.

Please watch the following video of the beautiful Tung blossoms in Taiwan.

Tung trees

The Tung tree (油桐樹) is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of about 20 m (66 ft) and sheds its leaves in the fall. It is a monoecious (雌雄同株) and diclinous (雌雄蕊異花) tree with both male and female flowers borne on the same inflorescence. Tung trees were first brought to Taiwan from mainland China and planted in hilly regions across Taiwan by the Japanese during the colonial period (1895-1945).

In April and May hills around the country turn white thanks to the Tung Blossoms. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

In April and May, hills around the country turn white thanks to the Tung blossoms. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Tung tree oil and wood

Tung tree seeds can be used to extract Tung tree oil. As Tung oil is durable, flexible, food-safe, and leaves a water-resistant finish, it was once commonly used in the manufacture of furniture, boats, and other consumer goods before it was replaced by cheaper synthetic alternatives. Tung tree wood is also a basic material in the production of consumer goods ranging from furniture and musical instruments to chopsticks, matchsticks, and paper umbrellas.

Hilltops in Taiwan are covered by snow-white Tung blossoms in early summer. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Hilltops in Taiwan are covered by snow-white Tung blossoms in early summer. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Tung blossoms

Tung tree flowers are borne in clusters, with the white blossoms tinged or striped with pink in the throat. The flower clusters are made up of one or more female flowers surrounded by a number of male flowers, but only male flowers will fall off the tree.

Tung blossom represents Hakka people's respect for nature and their frugal attitude.(Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

Tung blossoms represent the Hakka people’s respect for nature and their frugal attitude. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

When Tung blossoms grow in abundance, the fallen blossoms on the ground resemble snow in the spring. Taiwanese thus refer to Tung blossoms as “Snow in April,” or “Snow in May.” In fact, Tung blossoms are widely used on various Hakka cultural creative products as well.

The Tung Blossoms in northern Taiwan's Keelung City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Tung blossoms in northern Taiwan’s Keelung City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Symbol of the Hakka people

As Tung trees were mainly planted in the regions inhabited by the Hakka people in Taiwan, they used to be an important economic crop for Hakka families. Nowadays, due to the fact that the economic importance of Tung trees in Taiwan has diminished, the Hakka people’s livelihood is no longer reliant on Tung trees. Nonetheless, Tung trees have transformed into the symbol of the Hakka ethnic group in Taiwan, as they cherish the economic value the tree brought their forefathers.

Tung Blossoms are favored for their beautiful appearance and pristine snow-white color. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Tung blossoms are favored for their beautiful appearance and pristine snow-white color. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Hakka Tung Blossom Festival

To promote Hakka culture, Taiwan’s Council for Hakka Affairs started to sponsor the Hakka Tung Blossom Festival (客家桐花祭) in 2002. Since then, a variety of Hakka cultural activities have been organized by local governments during the blooming season every year.

The Tung Blossom Park at Tucheng District in northern Taiwan's New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Tung Blossom Park at Tucheng District in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Moreover, with many cozy parks and trails featuring Tung blossoms established in various places with thick Tung tree concentration across the country, Tung blossoms have been easily accessible to the public, and the Hakka Tung Blossom Festival has become a popular event in Taiwan. In addition to viewing beautiful and breathtaking clusters of Tung blossoms, visitors can also explore Hakka culture and appreciate Hakka cuisine during the festival. But it is a pity that many activities have been cancelled this year due to the ourbreak of the CCP virus (COVID-19).

Many hiking trails are blanketed by Tung blossoms. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

Many hiking trails are blanketed by Tung blossoms. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

It is romantic to walk on the meandering trails blanketed with snow-white flowers during the festival. In particular, when Tung blossoms are falling off the trees, it is amazing to see mini-propeller-like white Tung blossoms spinning down to the ground or the water of streams from the flower clusters in the sky.

One of the hiking trails at the Tucheng Tung Blossom Park in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

One of the hiking trails at the Tucheng Tung Blossom Park in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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