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).
Most of tropical flowers and plant are easily to plant in Cambodia with the hot and wet climate. Plus Cambodia people like to grow flowers in the surrounding, every house has at least several pots of favorite flowers. In the countryside, people grow their little garden in front of the house. The nature of flower would make people release from stress and smile at their beauty. Below are collection of some flowers growing in Cambodia with Khmer and English names.
Pka Champa is another attractive white fragrant flower in Cambodia. Champa is Khmer name for Michelia or Michelia Alba or Michelia Champaca. There are two kinds of Champa growing in Cambodia, white and yellow. But the most popular one is white, because it has stronger fragrance.
Champa tree is easy to grow from a 30cm trunk to a very huge matured tree at 30 meters height with evergreen leaves long live tree. There is a Champa tree with more than 70 years of age growing on Kulen mountain, Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was planted by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk at his first time visited when he was young. The tree is planted at the side of staircase to the sacred shrine of huge Reclining Buddha (Preah Ang Thom). The pure white fragrant flowers are growing out from the tips of every branch among the leaves, which is different from Champei (Plumeria) that singly at the branch ends. At first the flower is growing out small green flower tip, when the flower is growing bigger, the green color become faded, then slowly turn into white. The flower is picked up when it turn to be pure white, but not yet blossom. The flower is popular because of its magnificent fragrance that in many other countries in Asia use as essential oil in perfume industry.
Champa tree prefer warm and wet climate. New young plant shouldn’t put under strong sunlight, should be kept under the shade of tree and prevent from strong wind. However, Champa doesn’t need to water everyday, only once every four days is enough. In the raining season, no need to water at all. Too much water can cause the root become rotten. When the tips of leaves turn to be scorching brown, it’s the sign of too much water.
In Cambodia, Champa is picked up to keep in office, bedroom, car, etc. to creat natural fragrant atmosphere. Khmer young ladies like to tie Champa on their long black hair as a kind of hair decoration and keep Champa in their hand bags as perfume.
Champa has a upright growth habit creating excellent shade in the garden. So it’s good to plant a Champa tree next to the house to get shade and its fragrance. Champa tree can be bought at every plant selling station in Phnom Penh. The young tree of about one meter height, in which ready to flower, cost about 25,000 Riels (USD$6.00).
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.