The governor of Phnom Penh has decreed that the city's several thousand umbrella
trees - so called because of the large shady area they offer - are a public
nuisance and has ordered them to be cut down.
Another city tree gets the axe.
The reason, said Chea
Sophara, was that the large leaves clog the city's drains. He added that felling
them would not affect his beautification drive since they do not bear
"We will be better off planting trees that have small leaves and
produce flowers," he said. "There is no advantage in keeping umbrella
Not everyone agrees. Lo Yu is deputy chief of the city's Chamkar
Morn district and said some people believe ghosts settle in the trees, which is
why many were planted inside pagodas and near crematoria.
superstitious are wary of chopping them down for fear the ghosts will take
revenge on them.
"Those who cut the trees pray to them because they are
worried that the spirits live there," he said. He added that the municipality
would plant flower-bearing trees to replace them.
Heng Nguon, deputy
chief of Daun Penh district said his workers had cut down 700 umbrella trees so
far and "will continue to cut down more of them". A total of 1,300 trees have
been felled to date across the capital, but nobody is certain quite how many are
One angry kiosk owner gave the Post her reaction after the
municipality chopped down her 2-year-old umbrella tree.
government encouraged people to plant and preserve trees, but now they have cut
mine down. I will never again plant another tree," she said.