I was very impressed to see the picture of the banana at first sight. And I think it was a picture of a lotus flower. But as I looked at it more clearly, it wasn’t on water. When I see another picture of the whole tree, I realized that it’s a banana tree. However, it still look strange to me, since it doesn’t look like the banana tree I used to see in my country, Cambodia. And I must go for searching about it to solve my curiosity.
Champei is a Khmer name for Plumeria or Frangipani. It’s also among popular fragrant flowers in Cambodia. There are many various plumeria species around the world. But the white color Champei is widely planted in the public gardens in Phnom Penh. It’s a kind of big tree of about 5-8 meters height with multi-branched of dark green color leaves. The young tree has green wood and turn to be gray as it matures. The flower is about 5cm in diameters with 5 petals white color with yellow in the center. Champei gives people a pleasant looks and sweet smell.
White Champei is selected to be wore as jewelery for Khmer traditional lady dancers in almost form of dancing, including Apsara Dance, Robam Tep Monorum, Robam Chun Por (Benediction dance), and more. The dancers would wear one white Champei flower at the upper of their right ear, and wear several flowers on their long black hair lying on their back. The flower look so bright, which make the black color of the hair become more obvious.
Champei is among a popular names selected for naming daughters in Khmer family. Champei is a word used for comparing to a beautiful Khmer lady in Khmer novels, poems, and songs. Khmer authors always use Champei in their songs included classic and modern. Many hotels and restaurants or spas also use Champei in their business names. For example, Champei Siem Reap Hotel, Champei Spa, Champei Sor Restaurant. . .
Because of its fragrance, Champei was selected to be a kind of material for producing perfume. There are small family farms in provinces of Cambodia, especially Kampong Cham, planted Champei to collect its flowers and sell to the merchants.
Beside white Champei, there are other Champei varies in many colors of slightly pink, pink, and dark red. The white color Champei tree is the biggest tree, while other are smaller. People like to plant pink Champei in home garden in pots, since its tree is smaller with only about 2 meter height.
In the public garden along the Sahak Pon Russia street, Champei is planted in lines since 1960s. Though the garden has been renovated many times, but Champei trees are remain growing green. Now the tree is about 6 meters height. The garden looks very attractive with the white color blossoms of Champei. Locals like to be here every morning and evening for walking, chatting, and doing exercise. The air over there is always fresh and consist of the fragrance of Champei.
Rain lily is known in Khmer as Pror Teal Angkor Chum. It was called Rain Lily because it burst to flower after a rain. For Cambodian, Pror Teal is a generic name of a group of plantations which do not flower all year round, and some are rarely to flower. “Chum” means gather together, collecting, or meeting. It was called Angkor Chum, because people believe that planting this flower in the house would bring relatives and friends together living happily. Continue reading
Chan fruit is among fascinated Khmer fruits. In Khmer we call it Plae Chan (ផ្លែចាន់), Plae means Fruit. It’s a kind of fruit tree having heavily fragrance both flowers and fruit. The fruit is round with yellow color, the fruit’s diameter is about 4-5cm. Chan fruit tree is a kind of very big and long life tree. Cambodia people like Chan fruit because of it fragrance, the fragrance of ripe fruit which is very different from the fragrance of flowers. But some people feel that the fragrance of Chan fruit is consisted of bitter taste(ធុំក្រពុល).
Most flower with good fragrance are white color. Jasmine is among them with special heavy fragrance. Jasmine in Khmer we call Malis or Pka Malis. There are only two common species of Jasmine in Cambodia, one with single layer we call it Malis Lea (ម្លិះលា) and another one with multi-layered we call it Malis Ruot (ម្លិះរួត). The most popular one is Malis Lea which people grow it as farms and used it in many beneficial ways of daily living. So the following so called Jasmine that reminding in this article is about Malis Lea.
Lotus is a sacred flower which Cambodian chose to used for praying to God since ancient time for both Buddhism and Hinduism. Lotus symbolizes the purity and harmony of mind and spirit. People praying with lotus flower comparing to their honest prayers and pure belief in God.
In Cambodia, on every holy days of Buddhism, people would have lotus flowers to pray for Buddha God in the shrines, pagodas, and even in their own houses. Lotus for praying are lotus buds (not yet blossom). Cambodians have a special way to fold the petals of lotus buds to reveal the inner part of flower. Make it look artful and beautiful.
Cambodia has countless lotus ponds all over the country. It’s a unique beauty of Cambodia countryside views. People would be filled with delight to see the large lotus ponds with the earth smell of countryside. Cambodia has several kinds of lotus with pink, slightly pink, and white color. In most pagodas in the countryside, there is at least a pond of lotus growing. People in the city also like to have lotus growing in a large pot or vase for decoration.
In the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, we would find a white lotus growing around the statue of His Majesty Norodom.
Rumdul Flower (ផ្ការំដួល)
Rumdul or Romdul is the Khmer name for Mitrella Mesnyi. Rumdul with its three-petaled yellowish-white flower has been selected to be the national flower of Cambodia.
Rumdul flower has a very attractive scent, especially in the late evening after the sunset. Rumdul is popularly planted in Cambodia home gardens and also in public parks. It’s a big tree with the highest one is about 12m. The leaves grow so thick and great green, flowers are blossomed hidden behind the leaves. We hardly see many flowers without move aside its leaves. Only its special fragment smell that attracted people from far away.
Rumdul has become a part of Khmer literature, since Khmer authors have written their novels, poems, and songs related to Rumdul flower in the meaning compare to Khmer ladies. You might find some Khmer oldies song on youtube about Rumdul, some of them are: Rumdul Longvek, Rumdul Kratie, Rumdul Steung Songker, etc.
Cambodia people like to take the name of flowers for their daughters. Rumdul is among very popular names for Khmer girls.
Visiting the Royal Palace, after the ticket checking point, behind the bowing angels are Rumdul trees. The trees are about 2m high, since it’s still young. And you might not find its flower yet. Inside the garden of the Throne Hall and the Silver Pagoda, there are large Rumdul trees, and the flowers can be seen.
Rumdul fruit is edible. Many tiny fruits growing out in clusters with dark-red (the color of grape) when ripen. Rumdul fruit has a sour-sweet taste and has got a big seed inside. The first fruit eaten, you might feel it’s very sweet, but the more you eat, you would feel much of sour taste instead. After eaten, your tongue would turn violet, because of its color.
Since Rumdul are growing widely in the forest, the fruit might be considered as wild fruit. It’s only found selling in Siem Reap or Kampong Thom where close to the forest, and it’s become rare fruit for Phnom Penh people.
Pka Sarika or Pka Keo (ផ្កាសារិការឺផ្កាកែវ)
It’s another kind of white fragrant flowers. Pka Keo also has the special fragment smell only in the late evening. Especially, the evening after rain, the flowers grow on every branch of the tree, turning the tree from green into white color. The wind blows the pleasant smell in a long distance. The flower is less during the hot weather days. Pka Keo tree is a kind of high tree similar to Rumdul too, but the tree trunk would be bigger.
Pka Prolit or Water Lili(ផ្កាប្រលិត)
Pka Prolit is Khmer name for Water Lili. Water Lili is a kind of flower growing in water, similar to Lotus. Some of us get confused Water Lili to Lotus. Water Lili has smaller petals, the inner part also different. Its leaves never grow out of water, but only on the surface of water. Meanwhile, Lotus leaves is bigger, growing up from the water. Water Lili has many different colors: pink, white, yellow, violet, and red.