The trees whose giant roots imprison the walls and wings of Ta Prohm have fascinated visitors for years, and contributed to making this temple one of the most popular within the Angkor complex. Tourists always ask what those century-old trees are, said Frederic Violay, director of the French Cultural Center in Siem Reap.
They also want to know about the trees that stand 25 meters high and bloom scarlet in January and February, he said. To answer these questions and more, the center is holding a panel exhibition on the most common plants and trees in the Siem Reap area.
Each tree is illustrated in a series of color photographs on its general aspect, its leaves and flowers, coupled with just enough information to keep the casual visitor interested.
For example, the text on the water hyacinth—komplork in Khmer—explains that the plant, which reproduces very quickly, hampers boat circulation on the Tonle Sap lake, but its leaves and flowers are eaten, and it makes a rich fertilizer in its last stage.
The Ta Prohm tree is described in Khmer as sampong and scarlet-flower tree as daem roka, two fake kapok trees.
The exhibit took six months for the team of Andree Aupin-Royere, Lionel Couty and Violay to produce. Photos and the information were prepared by Aupin-Royere, a certified biology teacher, who accumulated hundreds of photos and extensive information for the exhibit.
Then Violay and Aupin-Royere reduced the material to essential facts so as not to overwhelm people with too much data, he said. Afterward, Couty, who has worked in media and publications in London, created the panels, displaying headlines, texts and photos in an easy-to-follow format.
The text on the panels is in French, with booklets of the Khmer version on hand. The exhibition runs until Monday.