I have found 三桐花 variously translated as paulownia, the phoenix tree or the tung tree.  It may be the tree that in Japan is called kiri. Kiri is often used in furniture in Japan and there is a romantic story as to why it is: when someone had a baby girl, they would plant one of these trees in the yard. By the time the girl had grown up and was about to be married, the tree was big enough to make most of the furniture for the newlyweds, which is what the father of the bride would do. 

Daddy and Kaylen with Tung trees in the background:

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The tall straight trees grow in the mountains in Taiwan around Hsinchu, and Sanhsia and Tucheng, among other places. In the spring the tree tops are full of white blossoms that look a little like apple blossoms, only bigger. You can see the flowers as you drive past the wooded hillsides, but once you get into the forest you can’t really see the flowers until they fall down. Then the ground and stream beds are covered with white blossoms. People here call this phenomenon “Spring Snow”.

We went with some friends to see the Spring Snow a couple weeks ago. We found a trail to walk on in Da-hsi. The blossoms weren’t at their peak but it was still a nice outing. The trees themselves are really nice – towering straight, smooth trunks that are pale green. As I said, I am not sure if this is the same tree, but the tung tree is where tung oil comes from, the oil that my mom used to use when she was refinishing some piece of furniture she found at a garage sale. (You rub in several coats and it protects the wood and gives it a bit of a shine, but not as shiny as varnish.)

flowers

It was a hot, humid day on the trail, and not a breath of wind – plenty more of that ahead of us! The girls had a great time collecting blossoms, putting them in their hair, arranging them on the ground.

Kaylen with 三桐花 and a cute yellow something:

Kaylen and flowers 

Kaylen and Eevie collecting blossoms:

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A floral arrangement:

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