Jackfruit, with its scientific name as Artocarpus heterophyllus, is said to be native of Southern and Southeast Asia. And it has a long history in which archeological researches have shown that jackfruit was cultivated in India from 3000-6000 years ago, while it was identified under a Sanskrit name as panasa. Nowadays, jackfruit has become a well known tropical fruit tree and has been growing throughout the region.
The common English name ‘Jackfruit’ is first used in 1563 by the physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his book. However, there are many different names for jackfruit in each language and region. For Cambodia, jackfruit is called ‘Knol’.
Jackfruit adapts well to humid tropical weather and it has been treated as the largest tree-born fruit. The largest fruit is about 36 kg in weight and up to 90 cm long, 50 cm in diameter.
Jackfruit trees are growing into big sizes; depend on the area of plantation. The leaves are from 10-15 cm long in oblong, oval shaped and have deep green color. The flowers are growing out from the trunk and big branches, from there the flowers developed into fruits and become mature at 4 to 8 months after flowering.
The fruits have the exterior compound with green color when young and turn to yellow or brown when ripe. The inside of the fruit contains edible yellow bulbs (commonly called flesh) which surrounded by many small white strings. The strings are also edible, but they don’t have the sweet taste, so mostly are discarded. The seeds stay inside the yellow bulbs, each bulb has one seed.
All parts of jackfruit contain a kind of sticky, white latex. When open up the fruits, we need to use the cooking oil to take off this latex, before we can take out its flesh. We also use cooking oil to clean the knife and our hands that latex has accumulated.
Jackfruit in Cambodia
In Cambodia, jackfruit is mostly grown in Kampong Cham province, where there are many big size of jackfruit farms. In other provinces are growing as family farm only. In recent years, a new species of jackfruit has been imported from Malaysia and has been growing in the area around Kirirom National Park. And this species has hard flesh which is focusing as supply for production of dried jackfruit chips. However, the local jackfruit chips are produced by small production enterprises only. It still needs to import from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for the local consumption.
The season of jackfruit in Cambodia is between March to May when the weather is hottest in the year. During this time jackfruit is well ripen and available in cheap price. However it’s available all year round.
There are two main varieties of jackfruit in Cambodia which distinguishable by the characteristic of the flesh. The one with hard and firm flesh and the fruit is bigger, is called ‘Knol Nang’. The one with softer flesh and sweeter taste is called ‘Knol Bay Sra’.
The Use of Jackfruit
The attraction of jackfruit is firstly its fragrance and then the starchy, fibrous, and sweet flesh. Mostly jackfruit is served as fresh fruit. However, it’s also prepared into many kinds of cakes.
The unripe or green jackfruit is used as vegetable for the Khmer soup, Samlor Korko, which it added the natural sweet taste to the soup.
The soft fresh jackfruit flesh is served with steamed sticky rice as a kind of dessert.
Num ansom knol is a cake in which sticky rice and ripe jackfruit flesh are wrapped in the banana leaf then boiled or steamed.
The seeds of ripe jackfruit are also edible, it’s boiled with salt or grilled to get cooked and served by removing the outer skin.
Jackfruit flesh is also prepared as preserved food as canned in sugar syrup or dried and make it as jackfruit chips.
The jackfruit trees with ages from 20 years up, their woods can be used to product furniture. The gum from its tree is used to repair pots with small holes.
Bougainvillea is a kind of flowering plant native to south America (western Brazil, Peru, southern Argentina). The common name for Bougainvillea is “paper flower” which refer to the thin and papery bracts. This is the same for Khmer name that called “pka krodas” where “pka” is flower and “krodas” is paper.
Bougainvillea is growing as wooding vines with thorns from one meter to the tallest 12 meters high. Bougainvilla is evergreen in raining season, and leaves are falling off during the low temperatures days. The leaves are simple heart-shaped. The actual flowers are the small tubular white or sometimes light yellow, forming in a cluster of three flowers at the middle of three to six bracts which has many colors such as pink, red, purple, orange, white, yellow, and light green.
Currently, Bougainvillea has over 300 varieties that have been crossed over several generations from the 4 species in its genus. Bougainvillea is now growing widely as ornamental plants in tropical and sub-tropical areas where the climate is warm. It’s an exellent hot season plant, because it can tolerate with the warm climate all year round.
Bougainvillea is perfect to grow along fence lines and walls, because it’s a wooding clambering vine which help decorate your fences or walls with its colorful bracts.It could be planted in pots or containers where it will not growing high.
In Cambodia, Bougainvillea is treated among the traditional or oldies flowering plants, because it’s been growing here since long time ago. People like to grow it because it can live for many years and don’t need a lot of care. We usually see Bougainvillea are growing on fences, at both sides of the entrance to the house, make it a colorful flowering gate. We also see it growing in pots in the garden and it always ardon their branches with colorful bracts.Bougainvillea is also among the ornamental flowering plants of Phnom Penh city, it was planted in lines in the middle of the city roads where the road-separate-bar is set to divide the road into two parts obviously.
Bougainvillea grow readily from cutting of 10-15 cm long, and will develop root system in 4-6 weeks. Then they can be potted in a soilless containers, cover them with some pine bark to give more drainage. Bougainvillea need a lot of sunlight, more sunlight more flowers. But it requires little water. Too much water, it will not flower and leaves may fall off or even die from root decay. However, Bougainvillea in pots need more water than growing directly into the ground. Bougainvillea is flowering all year round and the flowers last for many weeks. The bloom cycle is four to six weeks.
Actually, Bougainvillea can grow to their best in the wild that needn’t any care. Bougainvillea paints the green of nature with their colorful thin papery bracts.
I’ve heard about Angkear Bos flower as soon as I grow up through songs, novels, and even seen it in movies. But I’ve never smell the impressive fragrant of this flower, because I’ve never seen it in reality. Today, while passing a public park in front of the Sofitel Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh, the park which I often pass by, I was attracted by the pleasant fragrance that I must look for it. Then I see a line of Angkear Bos trees growing along the park, blossoming their white ivory flowers which can be seen obviously from far away. I parked my motorbike on the road side, under an Angkear Bos tree, under my feet are white Angkear Bos flowers which was falling down and as I raise my head look up to the tree branches, the flowers fell down on my face. I picked up several Angkear Bos flowers from the ground with delight. Continue reading
Below are some common tropical flowers growing in Cambodia with Khmer and English names and short descriptions.
1. ផ្កាឆោមឆា (Pka Chhorm Chha) – Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant. The scientific name is Delonix regia. Royal poinciana is a flowering plant which often grown as ornamental tree along the city streets in Phnom Penh. In the period of May to Sep, the tree is covered with exuberant clusters of flame-red flowers. Beside this, Royal poinciana provides good shades along the city streets and decorates the city with its beautiful flowers.
Lotus is a kind of aquatic plant or the plant that growing in water which its beauty is continuing throughout the entire year. Lotus, with the scientific name as Nelumbo Nucifera, is native to tropical Asia, with many species which the color of flowers range from white to hot pink. Lotus, in Khmer we call ‘Chhouk’, are planted by the roots incited into the soil of the pond or lake bottom. The leaves float on the water surface, or some are even grow higher than the water at about 50cm. It’s should be as large as 50cm in diameter. The flowers grow out on round thick stems, just like its leaves, rising high from the water surface.The flower is first growing out as a small bud, and grow bigger to about 5-6 cm in diameter. Then when it’s fully grown in bud stage, the flower starts to open up with many petal tiers. At the middle there is a circular seed pad of yellow color surrounded by golden hair, which it’s later grow into what Cambodians call lotus fruit (Plae Chhouk).
Tropical Fruits in Cambodia
Cambodia is a country located in tropical area of Asia, where the soil and climate are suitable for planting almost kinds of tropical fruits. Most of all fruits and vegetables are planted and harvested naturally, which are very good for health. Fruit is also a favorite of Cambodia people consuming daily as nutrition food beside main meals of rice. Through out the whole year, Cambodia always has plenty kinds of fruits in all season. The price are reasonable so that everyone can afford for fruits. Below are photos of tropical fruits growing in Cambodia, and some are really Khmer fruits which I couldn’t find the English name for them.
Jujube has its scientific name as Ziziphus Jujuba Mill. China is the homeland of jujube since more than 4000 years ago with more than 400 cultivars in its family. Now jujube has been growing in all over the world where having tropical climate.
In Cambodia, a cultivar of bigger fruits is growing as farm. But for other cultivar of smaller fruits (as in the photo above) are planted as fruit tree in home garden. Depend on cultivar, fruit can be round or elongate, the biggest size could be equal to an egg. The whitish flesh of sweet and sour flavor is covered by thin, edible skin. Inside has a hard seed. The young fresh fruit is green and turn to yellow-green as it ripens. Until the fruit is fully ripe, it has black-red color and the flesh become soft, the skin become wrinkle. Fresh mature jujube is very popular in Cambodia than other form of snacks made of jujube, because the flesh is crisp, sweet and some sour in taste.
Papaya (La hong)
Carica papaya is the scientific name of papaya and it homeland was Mexico. Papaya is a very good fruit for health as it contains many nutrition, especially, it is rich in vitamin A which is very beneficial for eyes and skin. Immature fruit has green color skin and slowly turn to yellow or orange when it ripens. Ripe papaya is eaten as fresh fruit or made into fruit juice. Green papaya is used as vegetable in cooking, for instance, papaya salad, papaya soup with pork, Papaya sour soup, Samlor Kokor (Khmer vegetable fish soup), etc. It’s also pickled for serving with grilled meat, pork rice, num pang sach (bread serve with meat) which are typical breakfast of Cambodians. Another kind of food made of green papaya is Mam La hong, it’s papaya fermented.
Sugar Apple (Plae Teab)
Rose Apple (Chumpu)
Pursat Orange (Pursat)
Grapefruit (Kroch Thlong)
Dragon Fruit (Plae Sroka Neark)
Guava (Tro Baek)
Jew Plum (Makak)
Jew Plum or Ambarella fruit or Makak in Khmer has scientific name as Spondias dulcis. The fruit is at egg size or a bit bigger, grow out in clusters of more than a dozen. The thick skin of the fruit is green when young and turn to be yellow or orange when ripe. Both young and ripe fruits are edible with different flavor. In Cambodia, the young or green Makak is always popular as snack serving with salt-added-chilly. The flesh is crisp and has yummy sour taste (as in the photo about, Makak is already taken out its skin). When it ripe, the flesh become soft and has yellow color like ripe mango, however, it has sweeter taste. Makas has one hard seed with soft thorny and growing harder after mature, but when the fruit is young, the seed is also eaten.
Pomegranate (Plae Toteum)
There are several species of Pomegranate, it’s obviously seen by the color of its inner is red or white and also the size of the fruit. Usually the pink color is more delicious. Inside the cover, there are numerous seeds that covers by juicy flesh. There is no pomegranate farm in Cambodia, so it’s always imported from China, Thailand, Korea. Cambodian plant Pomegranate as ornamental plant in home garden only.
Star Apple (Plae Teuk Dos)
There are many varieties of star apple, the purple and green are common. The fruit has got star pattern when cut into half, that’s why it’s called star apple. It also has milk-like water, so Cambodian called it milk fruit (Plae = fruit; Teuk Dos = milk). The flesh is aromatic, soft and sweet, but it has the sticky white latex on the skin layer which could stick onto your mouth. My way to eat star apple is after cut it into half, I use spoon to get it flesh.
Cambodia is an agriculture country with tropical climate of dry and wet. Many tropical plants are growing well with Cambodia soil and climate. Fruits and vegetables are abundant in the country. Below listed are Khmer vegetables which are growing in Cambodia with their Khmer names.
1. Slerk Bas (Bas leaf) – (ស្លឹកបាស)
This is a kind of Khmer vegetable which I couldn’t find its English name. It’s growing as vines, leaves are light green when young and become dark green when old. It has while color flowers and bearing fruits look like cucumber, but just as big as finger, the fruit is red when ripe. Slerk Bas can grow from its ripe fruit, also can grow from its mature vines, it’s very easy to grow. However, the plant is growing for its young leaves only. Cambodia people like to have Slerk Bas as vegetable for their soup such as Samlor Korko, Samlor Proher, or just normal soup with fish. My mom like to cook Slerk Bas with sweet potatos and minced pork. It created a natural sweet soup.
2. Slerk Ngob (Sweet vegetable) – (ស្លឹកងុប)
This is also a kind of vegetable for Khmer soup of Samlor Tum Pang (bamboo shoot shoot), or we can cook it with Tofu and minced pork. Or can cook it with fish with some other kinds of vegetables like Slerk Bas and Malabar spinach (ស្លឹកជន្លង់). Slerk Ngob is a kind of shrub growing to about 2m high. The young leaves are light green color and it’s used as vegetable. The old leaves are dark green, people pounded the old leaves to get its green water from the leaves to make natural green color for various cakes. Its bear small round fruits look like shirt button. Slerk Ngob is very easy to grow, especially near by water source, just cut down an old branch and insert to the grow, then it will grow out new leaves after one week.
3. Ptih (Edible Amaranth) – (ផ្ទី)
Ptih is also used in Samlor Korko and Samlor Tum Pang with many other vegetables. However, it can be cooked alone with fish and minced pork too. There are many kinds of Ptih with green, purple and red leaves. It’s a short term vegetables growing by seeds.
4. Kro Saing Teab (Crab Claw herb) – (ក្រសាំងទាប)
Kro Saing Teab is a kind of vegetable growing in about 25cm high. It has small green leaves which is shaped similar to the crab claw or heart. The edible part is the whole stem and leaves, it taste a bit hot like chili. So some people cannot eat. Kro Saing Teab is pick up before the plant get flowering, while the leaves are fresh green and big, the stem is still soft. After the plant flowering, the leaves turn into abit yellow and become smaller. At this stage, it’s not nice to eat, because the stem is too hard. Kro Saing Teab is prepared as salad mix with tomato and onion. Kro Saing Teab stir fried with beef is the popular dish of this vegetable.
5. Slerk Chun Lung (Malabar spinach) – (ស្លឹកជន្លង់)
This is another kind of green leafly vegetables growing in vines. We eat its leaves in cooking with Slerk Ngob, Slerk Bas, and Ptih with fish or pork. These several kinds of vegetables can make a perfect mixture, try it if you like vegetables. Slerk Chun Lung have two species with green leaves and purple leaves.
6. Kanh Chhaet (Water Mimosa) – (កញ្ឆែក)
It’s a kind of floating plant growing on the water surface. The scientific name is Neptunia oleracea Lour. The stem are cover by white layer, the root is violet growing at each stem connection. Leaves are small shaped like bird feather. The flower is yellow. In Cambodia, water mimosa is either cook in soup with prohok and water spinach, and also eaten raw as vegetable with Prohok Khtis and Teuk Kroeung. The edible parts are young leaves and young stem, the white layer cover the stem and root are removed.
7. Slerk Tro Jeak Kranh (Asiatic Pennywort) – (ស្លឹកត្រចៀកក្រាញ់)
It’s a kind of green leafy creeping plant with scientific name as Centella Asiatica. Growing just about 15cm from the ground, it likes moisture and grow well under shades. The plant get the name of ‘Slerk Tro Jeak Cham’ is because of the shape of its leaves look like ‘ears’, which ‘Tro Jeak Cham’ means memorized-ear. Slerk Tro Jeak Cham is cooked in simple soup with sliced pork or minced pork or with fish flesh. Sometimes the soup is added the sweet potato which fix well with Slerk Tro Jeak Cham. The locals believe that Slerk Tro Jeak Cham has anti-oxidant properties, they said eating it to release the ‘hot’ inside their body and to refreshing. Especially the fresh juice of Slerk Tro Jeak Cham is very popular during summer days.
8. Trokuon (Water Spinach or Water Convolvulus) – (ត្រកួន)
Trokuon is among popular daily consuming vegetables for Cambodian. It’s growing naturally and also been grown in the ponds or lakes through out the country, and this species is called ‘Trokuon Srae’ means ‘wild water spinach’. The wild water spinach is used as vegetable for sour soup, especially Samlor Machu Kroeung Khmer, and also eaten raw as other fresh vegetables with Prohok Khtis or Teuk Kroeung. There is another species growing in the vegetables garden called ‘Trokuon Chen’ means ‘ Chinese water spinach’. This species is growing in row on the ground, not in the water. The plant is growing straight up to about 40cm with smaller stems. It’s very popular for restaurants for their ‘Water spinach stir fry’ dish and it’s used as vegetables for soups.