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).