The endless golden color of the Central Highlands’ wild sunflowers

WVR - As always, when the Northeast monsoon winds blow in late October and early November each year, it signals the coming of the dry season as well as the moment when the first wild sunflowers begin to bloom and give off their distinctive scent.
Hoa dã quỳ Tây Nguyên đang vào mùa khoe sắc đưa hương rực rỡ...
Wild sunflowers bloom in the Central Highlands. (Photo: Dang Duc)

Wild sunflowers also have many different names such as the tree marigold, Mexican tournesol, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, Nitobe chrysanthemum, etc., which are species of wildflower originally from Mexico. They were first introduced to Da Lat by the French and were later widely planted in plantations in Lam Dong province as well as other provinces in the Central Highlands region.

This plant was initially grown as green manure for coffee and rubber plantations, as the stems of wild sunflowers contain a lot of P, Ca, Mg, making them quite good organic fertilizer. Thanks to their easily dispersed seeds and easy propagation through stem cuttings, this plant gradually took over the wilderness in various places in the Central Highlands.

Nearly a decade ago, wild sunflowers were used as the main symbol for the Da Lat Flower Festival in December 2005. In Gia Lai, wild sunflowers grow and bloom all over the Chu Dang Ya volcano. Every year, the province organizes a wild sunflower festival at the foot of this mountain, attracting many tourists.

Although we’ve been to the Central Highlands to admire the wild sunflowers dozens of times, my friends and I have never felt “bored”. On the contrary, we are absolutely in love with this simple, humble, yet incredibly charming wildflower.

That's why in the early days of November this year, when we heard that the wild sunflowers had begun their blooming season, our usual “backpacking” group immediately hit the road. We didn’t want to delay and risk missing out on a flower season!

Just like many times before, our group set off from Ho Chi Minh City, heading to Dau Giay Junction and then proceeding straight along Highway 20 to the dreamy Da Lat. Not far from Bao Loc city, as we entered Di Linh district, both sides of the road began to be adorned with clusters of wild sunflowers. Their brilliant golden color illuminated a corner of the sky, making the journey even more enchanting.

Coming to the Duc Trong district, the frequency of wild sunflower clusters increased, densely lining both sides of the highway. The scene was like a painting, beautifully blending shades of yellow and green which were breathtaking to behold.

Of course, our group, like many young people and tourists, both domestic and foreigners visiting Da Lat, couldn’t easily pass up the opportunity to stop and admire the wild sunflowers. We have to take a few “selfies” to keep the moment.

After a few days and nights of sightseeing and exploring various attractions in the outskirts and downtown of Da Lat, we made our way back to Ho Chi Minh City early Sunday morning. As usual, we didn’t return via the same route (Highway 20) as when we came. Instead, we took provincial road DT 725, a 176.82 km long route starting from Da Lat and ending at DT 721 in Da Teh town, Da Teh district, Lam Dong province.

Regarding this DT 725 road, according to my friends’ and my own experience, as well as many other young people who have passed through, this route is absolutely beautiful. The road is not only smooth and easy to travel on, but it's also quiet, with very few cars. Most of the traffic consists of motorcycles or local farmers' tractors transporting fertilizers and harvested crops from their fields.

ĐT 725 xuyên qua tỉnh Lâm Đồng là cung đường tuyệt đẹp để ngắm hoa dã quỳ...
DT 725 through Lam Dong province is a beautiful route to admire wild sunflowers. (Photo: Dang Duc)

What delighted us most about exploring this route is that apart from conquering the spectacular passes like Ta Nung and Con O, or immersing ourselves in the vast expanses of coffee plantations heavy with ripe fruit ready for harvest, it is also the sight of wild sunflowers blooming brilliantly on both sides of the road. This is an impression that we would not easily forget in our lifetime.

The Central Highlands region has many areas where wild sunflowers grow, but it seems that this road has more wild sunflowers, and they are more beautiful and radiant than anywhere else. Almost everywhere we went, we encountered the endless golden color of wild sunflowers, from vacant lots, boundary strips around fields, around households, to the banks of streams, and even high up on the hillside. Wild sunflowers appear everywhere, growing and thriving vigorously.

Most of these flowers grow naturally in the wild, but there are also a few households that plant a few bushes as fences in front of their houses to decorate the landscape more beautiful and vibrant. Maybe for the local people, the blooming and withering of wild sunflowers might just be an “daily thing in the district”, but for our group in particular, and for distant tourists who have never seen the radiant beauty of these wild mountain flowers, encountering them is certainly a delight or excitement. Everyone would undoubtedly take many photos as souvenirs with the wild sunflowers, marking the memories of their trips.

The wild sunflowers are currently in their blooming season, showing off their radiant beauty that is breathtakingly beautiful. So, if any of young people are planning to go “backpacking” in the Central Highlands in general, or to the dreamy Da Lat in particular, then pack your backpacks and go. Because if you delay even for a short while, the wild sunflowers will be withered, and you will surely regret missing out on a flower season.

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