Erythophleum fordii (lim in Vietnamese) is a species of ironwood found in mainland China’s southeastern region, Taiwan and Vietnam. It’s a valuable timber tree threatened by overexploitation and listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In a small forest right next to Va Temple in Trung Hung Ward of Son Tay, 42 km northwest of Hanoi, there are 242 Erythophleum fordii trees, of which 85 are classified as ancient.
A lot of visitors bring their children here on the weekend.
According to Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sinh, president of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, it is the only natural ironwood forest that grows in a densely-populated area, hence its appeal. “The trees have witnessed the country’s ups and downs over hundreds of years.”
All heritage trees are numbered and protected.
A representative of Va Temple said: “Locals and visitors have helped preserve these special trees, keeping them safe over many years.”
Though many ironwood trees seem to have dead roots and bodies, their branches still grow strong. Local authorities are planning to revive trees deemed down-and-out.
Most of the trees here are above 10 m in height, the species capable of reaching 30 m when fully grown.