Come May, hollong trees pave Saigon sidewalks in golden-brown hue
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Saigon's sidewalks are dyed golden brown in May as hollong petals descend to the ground, heralding the approaching rainy season.
Hollong trees (Dipterocarpus retusus), known as cho nau in Vietnamese, can be found across the city, though Pham Ngoc Thach, Le Quy Don, and Le Duan streets in District 1 and District 3 are home to the densest population. Every March, Dipterocarpus retusus flowers bloom with a mild fragrance. Come April, these trees begin to grow seeds. As the weather heats up at the beginning of May, their petals turn brown and spin to the ground.
The flowers have two petals that turn brownish yellow when they dry. They often spin like a pinwheel when the wind blows before carpeting the sidewalks.
The Dipterocarpus retusus is a large tree and perhaps the best known species in the genus Dipterocarpus. It is native to China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.
For many Saigonese, the spinning seed heralds the nearing monsoon season. The rainy season in Saigon normally lasts from mid-May till the end of October.
Fallen cho nau seeds on a street in Saigon.
A woman takes photos of a hollong petal carpet on Le Duan Street near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
This year, popular tourist destinations with Dipterocarpus retusus trees like the the Turtle Lake, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office (pictured) and the nearby April 30 Park are all deserted due to the fresh Covid-19 outbreak that hit the country late last month.