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).
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.