Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Yellow Daylily and The Edible Golden Needle Flower

Eversince joining Blotanical, I had always admired the gorgeous daylilies that Lynn of Best In Bloom Today blog grows in her garden. There are so many varieties of hybrids and colours and mix of colours, I really envy her and wish I can grow them in my garden too. I usually see beautiful pictures of daylilies from photos and magazine pictures and I even have some fake ones in a vase at home. We do get to see the real ones at the florists and especially during Chinese New Year season where they sell the white and red ones.

Botanical name: Hemerocallis spp (Hemerocallis hybrids)
Common name: Yellow Daylily,
Chinese name: Golden Needle Flower ((金针花)
Family : Hermerocallidaceae
Native of: Europe, China, Korea and Japan

During my recent Chinese New Year shopping at the Sungei Buloh nurseries, I was extremely delighted to come across these yellow beauties and I couln't resist myself. So I bought them home. The flowers of my daylily only last for one day but it is replaced by another new one from the cluster that comes from a single stalk. There is hardly any fragrance.

Before I buy, I asked the nursery owner whether it will live long in our hot Malaysian climate. Well, of course, he said yes and he ended up a little richer and as for me, I was so happy to bring it home. I didn't believe him when he told me that it was called the gum jump far (金针花)or golden needle flower in Chinese. He can't even tell me the English name of this plant. Here they rarely tell us the botanical names. They like to use the common name or nick name. For example, a senduduk (Melastoma malabathricum) I bought turn out to be a Tibouchina or princess flower and a Thai Jasmine turn out to be Wrightia antidysenterica.

We use the gum jump far which is actually the dried daylily buds in cooking. Wendy of Greenish Thumb blog has just written a post about it and she has included a recipe. To read more, please visit here.

To view more lovely daylily pictures, do visit Lynn of Best in Bloom Today blog by clicking here.
My post today is dedicated to Ms Darla from Florida, USA of More Family and Flowers Blog. She was the first commenter of my previous Wordless Wednesday post, Dwarf Arundina Grass Orchids. I love to visit her happy, interesting blog.

Post publication update: Here's an interesting vegetarian dish recipe on video. I haven't try this recipe before but I like to eat vegetarian dish with golden needle flower, the ingredients of which are stir fried with red soya bean paste. Do you think the video is useful?

Does it take too long to load my webpage?

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 4th week of February 2010. The theme this week is "Something Old and Something New." My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.

This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dwarf Arundina (Grass Orchid) - Wordless Wednesday






Botanical name: Arundina spCommon name: Dwarf Arundina, Dwarf grass orchid
Family: Ochidaceae
Native of: South East Asia
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.

To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

I am extremely delighted to dedicate this post to Ms Nell Jean from Georgia, USA, of Secrets of a Seed Scatterer, the first commenter of my previous post, "Arundina Graminifolia Bamboo Orchids." I stumbled into her blog via a comment she made at Flower Lady's blog even before she joined Blotanical. I was attracted by her great sense of humour and writing skills. Now I am a faithfull follower of her blog. I love the way she conducts and reports on surveys and she also gives us valuable tips and advice on blogging and Blotanical. Yes! She does share a lot of 'secrets' with us readers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Arundina graminifolia (Bamboo Orchid)

Arundina graminifolia is a terrestrial wild orchid that is commonly found in Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and throughout Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, we can find them growing wild in the road cuts and other disturbed areas along roadsides where there is full sun.

Today, I am so very happy to write about Malaysia's wildflower which also happens to be an orchid!

I have seen the most beautiful version during a recent trip to Genting Highlands in January this year. It is indeed growing wild by the roadside and I just can't take my eyes off it. Neither can I forget the incredible encounter of this gorgeous, exotic beauty.

It reminds me of a song sung by one of my favourite Taiwanese singers, the late Theresa Teng, "Don't Pick The Wildflowers By The Roadside" (路边的野花不要采 - Lu4 bian1 de ye3 hua1 bu2 yao4 cai3). It is a song about a gentleman who is leaving the village. His girlfriend who is sending him off requests him not to forget her. She also reminds him not to fool around with the "sweet young ladies" (the 'wildflowers') whom he may meet in the outside world!

Well, can you pass the test when face to face with such a beauty?

Scientifc name: Arundina graminifolia
Synonyms: Arundina bambusifolia Lindl., Bletia graminifolia D.Don, Arundina speciosa Blume

Common name: Bamboo Orchid, Tapah Weed, Kinta Weed, Bird Orchid
Malay name: Orkid Buluh

Family : Ochidaceae

Native to: Southeast Asia
Distribution: India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South China, Indonesia,
Introduced to and naturalised in: Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama

David Don (1) first described this species as Bletia graminifolia in Prodromus Florae Nepalensis in 1825, based upon a collection from Nepal. In 1910, Benedict Hochreutiner transferred it to Arundina in the Bulletin of the New York Botanic Garden.

The generic name is derived from the Greek word (1) 'arundo' in reference to the reed-like stems of the plant and the Latin words (3) 'gramineus' (grass-like) and 'folius' (leaf).

In places where there is rapid development, the clearing of jungles and cutting of hill slopes for roads and housing have resulted in bare open slopes with too little topsoil for trees to grow. Within 2 years or so, these barren land will be covered with wild grass, ferns and hardy shrubs like the senduduk (Melasstoma malabathricum). In 5 or 6 years time, there will be colonies of Arundina graminifolia.

In Cameron Highlands, it can be found growing wild by the roadside. Colonies of it has also been spotted along the Malaysian North-South highway, particularly near the Perak stretch. Some of the wild ones may be more than 6 ft tall.

I found many photography 'models' during my recent trip to Genting Highlands. In the above picture, the arundinas were growing wild at slopes along the highway near to the Lim Goh Tong (Genting Highlands founder) Final Resting Place and Memorial building halfway up.

This picture is taken near the entrance of the Seri Malaysia Hotel, Genting Highlands at the Goh Tong Jaya township.

As we know, there are 2 main types of orchids :
a) epiphytic orchids which are grown in pieces of bricks and charcoal, and
b) terrestrial orchids like the arundina which grow and flower on the ground.

I think their pinkish purple flowers look like those of the cattleya orchid that I am growing at home. It has a tubular lip that is of a darker purple than the sepals and petals. The flowers are slightly fragrant and last for about 3 days. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.

According to Wikipedia (2), this species is close to extinction in Singapore, with only 200 of the plant recorded growing naturally there. This problem it seemed, was largely caused by the destruction of its natural habitat, namely the rainforests and mangrove swamps.

There are many more arundinas, some at the Chin Swee Temple and also around the Genting Highlands Outdoor Theme Park areas. The elevation here is 1,760 metres (5,770 ft) above sea level.

The arundina in the picture above is planted beside the statue of Sha Wujing, (translated as Friar Sand or Sandy), a character in the Tang Dynastic Chinese epic, "Journey to the West". He was previously a Great General from heaven who 'folds the curtain' but was banished to the mortal realm for dropping and shattering a crystal goblet belonging to the Heavenly Queen Mother.

The above arundina is planted at the rooftop Secret Garden of 1-Utama. Dr. Francis Ng has successfully grown them there and he also has the dwarf version of the arundina. I shall be posting pictures of the dwarf arundina in my next Wordless Wednesday post.

Some orchid lovers have dug out the arundinas from their natural habitat and transferred them to their own homes in an attempt to grow them. A few are successful where many have failed.

Growing conditions:
I have read that if the conditions (e.g. soil, watering and sun exposure) are right, it can thrive and it will bloom throughout the year. Arundinas prefer well-drained soil, 50-70% lighting, high humidity and good air circulation. The soil should be consistently moist. Do not let it dry out between waterings. Low or poor light conditions will result in failure to bloom.

Here in Malaysia, I have seen this plant for sale at the local nureries and Floria flower show.
In Singapore, Woon Leng Nursery has the plant for sale. Check out this link.
The seeds are also available in Hilo, Hawaii. Check out Dave's Garden here.

(1) - Taxonomy and Nomenclature, check here.
(2) Wikipedia - please click here.
(3) Orchid Species Bulletin published by the Orchid Species Society, which is based in Brisbane, Queensland in September 2009 - please click this webpage.

See also more photos and read about the love affair with this orchid in the Orchid Lovers Forum: Arundina graminifolia, The Tall and Short Varieties. Click here.

My post today is dedicated to Lotusleaf from India, of Garden Tropics blog. I do enjoy visiting the "wild garden in the tropics" and I can certainly "find peace and tranquility" whenever I look at the beautiful pictures of exotic flowers, foliage and wildlife posted there. Hope you enjoy your visit to Garden Tropics too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ground Orchids Spathoglottis Hybrids

Spathoglottis is a genus of tropical terrestial orchids that are native in regions from Sri Lanka and South East Asia to the Pacific islands. There are about 45 species of spathoglottis growing in diverse habitats in South East Asia, India, New Caledonia, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Cape York Peninsular, Australia. I'm sure you can find it in Hawaii, Florida and other tropical and sub-tropical USA regions too.

Spathoglottis orchids are easy to cultivate here and sought after for their pretty flowers and evergreen foliage. Leaves are long, slender and parallel-veined. This orchid is used as a ground cover in tropical landscaped gardens and it can also be grown in a container as a houseplant.

Botanical name: Spathoglottis hybrids
Common name: Garden orchid, boat orchid, ground orchid, Philippines ground orchid, palm orchid*
Family: Orchidaceae

* info, thanks to James Missier of Garden Chronicles blog.

Flowers occur in clusters that form at the end of a long stalk and come in purple, orange, yellow and white.
When you look closely at the flowers, you will be able to see their 3-lobed labellum that projects forward with an extended midlobe that make it easy for insects to land. Both sepals and petals are broad and the sepals are hairy on the outside. Some spathoglottis orchids are self-pollinating while others are insect pollinated.

Spathoglottis orchids prefer well drained loamy soil. Water them regularly but do not overwater. Here they grow well in light shade to full sun exposure. I think their biggest enemy is the white mealy bugs that forms in clusters behind the leaves.

I have this magenta or pinkish purple Spathoglottis plicata in my garden.

Spathoglottis plicata is listed as vulnerable in Australia.

In Malaysia, we used to find this orchid in many homes in the kampungs and villages. In my next post about other ground orchids, I shall share more about these simple, pretty orchids, and my special orchid.

I am very eager to know if you are growing these ground orchids in your climate zone. Do share your experience in a comment here.

Note: The pinkish-yellow and white spathoglottis pictures are taken at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama while the purple one in the last picture is from my garden.

My post today is dedicated to Ms Sunny from USA, of Barnyards and Barnacles - An America Photo Journey blog. She was the first commenter of my previous post, tittled "Datura metel - Wordless Wednesday". She has a great blog full of beautiful, beautiful pictures which I have already found and admired even before joining Blotanical. I am so glad she still visits and comments on my blog. Yay, yay, yay :).

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 3rd week of February 2010. The theme this week is "Eye Candy for the Weekend." My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #81. My grateful thanks to the TF folks: Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Valkyrien for hosting Today's Flowers. To participate or view other floral displays around the world, click here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Datura metel - Wordless Wednesday




Family: Solanaceae (nightshade family)
Botanical name: Datura metel
Common name: Angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, downy horn of plenty, Jimpson weed,
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.

To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

This post is dedicated to Ms Tatyana from USA, of MySecretGarden, the first commenter of my previous post, "Happy New Year, My Valentine." Her blog is filled with beautiful pictures and creative posts, sometimes I cry along with her very touching posts, at other times, I LOL at the humorous ones.

Post publication updates - Related Posts:
1. Floridagirl of Peace In The Valley in her post dated - "You Planted What ???!!!"

Her message: If you are growing the Angel's Trumpet, it is highly toxic, contains hallucinogens, and has caused death in rare instances. Keep children away from this plant!

2. This link is provided by Andrea - Westcost Island Gardener of Welcome to the Garden Brae blog, in her post titled, "The Infamouse Datura: The Plant of Zombies and Angels".

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy New Year, My Valentine!

This year, February 14th is a very special day.
I'd like to wish each and everyone of my visitor who read this post,

Note: This is my 2010 Valentine's Day post. My 2012 Valentine's Day post is here.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
I do, I do, I do.....!

What do you say on this special day?
I Love You
Saya cinta pada mu - Malay
Wo Ai Ni - Mandarin
Je t'aime - French
Ich liebe Dich - German
Aloha wau ia 'oe - Hawaiian
Main tumse pyar karta hun or main tumse pyar karti hun - Hindi
Nan unnai khadal likeran - Tamil
Ti amo - Italian
Kimi o ai shiteru - Japanese
Tangsinul sarang ha yo - Korean
Mahal kita - Pilipino (thanks to Andrea)
Jag a Iskar Dig - Swedish
Jeg elsker deg - Norwegian (thanks to Mia)
Ya tebya lyublyu - Russian (thanks to Tatyana)
Te iubesc - Romanian (thanks to Meredith)
Sa Ga Po - Greek (thanks to Kimberly)
Tell me more, tell me more .....!

Who is the special person(s) in your life?
Husband, son, daughter, father, mother, girlfriend, boyfriend, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, auntie ..... who else?

What is your present to him / her?
a) Yourself
b) Something money can buy
c) Something money cannot buy

The colours of roses:
Red - Sincere love and respect, courage and passion
Deep Pink - appreciation and thank you
Light Pink - admiration and sympathy
Yellow - friendship, joy, gladness, promise of a new begining
White - spiritual love and purity, bridal rose
Lavender - love at first sight and enchantment
Orange - a passionate desire, enthusiasm and fascination

How many roses do you wish for?
1 Rose - Love at first sight, you are the one
2 Roses - Mutual love
3 Roses - I Love You
6 Roses - I wanna be yours
7 Roses - I am infatuated with you
9 - An Eternal Love
10 - Your are perfect
11 - You are the one I love most in my life
12 - Be my steady
13 - Secret admirer
15 - I am truly sorry, please forgive me
24 - Can't stop thinking about you, 24 hours a day
99 - I will love you for as long as I live
100 - devoted as a couple till ripe old age
101 - You are my one and only one
108 - Please marry me
365 - Can't stop thinking about you, each and everyday
999 - Everlasting and eternal love

In the east, the peony is the Chinese Queen of Flowers. It is a symbol of beauty, love and romance. I have never seen a real peony, neither can I get a real one, so this is a picture of a peony made from silk. In the days of old China, palace concubines used to decorate their rooms with beautiful peonies to keep the Emperor’s desire for them unabated. Families with marriageable daughters will display pictures or real peonies in the living room so that their daughter will get married soon. However, mature couples do not display the peony in their bedroom as this will encourage the husband to be too 'active' and look for 'sweet young things' !
While Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th, the Chinese Valentine's day falls on the 15th day of the lunar new year. This year it falls on the February 28th. Here in certain towns in Malaysia, e.g. Penang, Ipoh, Port Klang, events are held where bachelor boys and girls have fun in the throwing of oranges into the sea or lakes in the hope of finding a good husband/wife. The girls throw the oranges while the guys will retrieve them out later. Phone and/or contact details are written on the oranges so that the person who fish out the orange can start the first move later. Folklore has it that in the days of old China, a Lantern Festival will be held on the 15th day. This is the only day in the whole year that young unmarried maidens are allowed to go out, accompanied by a chaperon of course. So, many a gentlemen will also gather in the streets to have a glimpse of the lovely prospects. According to legend, a fairy matchmaker from the moon would tie red strings of destiny on their legs, so couples end up being together.

This is a Chinese New Year decoration at the 1-Utama Shopping Complex with big red lanterns and 3 Maneki Neko cats wishing customers Happy New Year. Maneki Neko is also known as the Lucky Cat or Wealth Welcoming Cat ( 招財貓, pinyin 招き猫). Other names include Beckoning Cat, Welcoming Cat, Money Cat, Fortune Cat. It is believed to bring good luck to the owner. It depicts a Japanese Bobtail Cat beckoning with an upright paw and is usually placed at business entrances or the cashier's counter welcoming customers. A raised left paw is said to attract more customers while a right paw attracts wealth. Some are mechanically or battery powered with a continously moving paw. Perhaps you have seen them before.
In Malaysia, the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Chinese. It is a cultural celebration of the Spring Festival. This year couples in love will be torn between filial piety and romance. They have to choose between going home for the New Year Eve reunion dinner or celebrating a romantic candlelit dinner for two. I'm sure many will choose the former over the latter. There are other days couples can celebrate romance, like a belated Valentine or their own anniversary dates.


This post is dedicated to Ms Rosey Pollen of Dung Hoe from Colorado, USA. She was the first commenter in my previouse post, "The Mickey Mouse Plant From Flower to Fruit." She lives in a place far far away from me and I have learnt a lot of American ways, expressions and unique words from her. I envy the amount of snow she is getting there now. At the moment, I am sitting by the window wishing that the sky will drop some snow instead of the daily rain water that we are getting. I must admit that what I enjoyed most is the cyber 'hugs' I get from her in my comments section. Yay!

Note: The roses are photographed from the Strawberry Farm at Genting Highlands, Malaysia.

Post publication updates: List of related posts
1. Gardenfrist of Bloomintyme - If You Were a Plant, He'd be .....
2. Kimberly of Garden in Paradise - Passionate Possies.
3. Ami of Southeast Florida Garden Evolvement - Celebration Bouquets for the New Year.
4. Babara of Gardening in Mannheim, Germany - Fairtrade Flowers for Valentine's Day.
5. Poetic Shutterbug - Valentine's Day Poetry.
6. Wendy of Greenish Thumb - Happy gbbd, v-day and Cny, she has the beautiful narcisus bloom that I am longing for.
7. Stephanie of Steph's Green Space - Hearts for the Season.
8. Lotusleaf of Garden Tropics - Blooming Friday-Heart's for Valentine's Day.
9. Helen (Islandgal246) of My Rustic Bajan Garden - Happy Valentine.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 2nd week of February 2010. The theme this week is "Colours." My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.
This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit here.
This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #80. My grateful thanks to the TF folks: Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Valkyrien for hosting Today's Flowers. To participate or view other floral displays around the world, click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Mickey Mouse Plant from Flower to Fruit - Wordless Wednesday





Family: Ochnaceae
Botanical name: Ochna kirkii
Common name: Mickey Mouse Plant, Bird's Eye Bush, 桂葉黃梅, 米老鼠樹,
Origin: Tropical Africa

Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.
To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.
This post is dedicated to Ms Babara_elaine of Gardening in Mannheim, Germany, the first commenter of my previous post, "My Lunar New Year Garden." So head over to her blog to read interesting articles about her gardening adventures and beautiful pictures of nice places in Germany.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Lunar New Year Garden

I was overjoyed to see this blooming Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) at my fave nursery and instantly fell in love with it. It was the only blooming Jade plant there. Now this lovely houseplant is sitting in my living room. I am learning how to grow a jade plant. I wasn't successful during my previous 2 attempts due to overwatering.

My ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) has been blooming non-stop since early January. Maybe the weather conditions (changeover from rainy to sunny) are just right now. ZZ plants love well drained soil and bright shade like near a window or under the porch. It is actually very easy to grow if water and light conditions are right. Make sure the soil is dry before you water it thoroughly again. I like to use the slow release Japanese humus as fertilizer. It is easier and faster to propagate by dividing the plants and repotting them. Growing from leaves takes a very long time. Once in a while, I will wipe off the dust from the leaves one by one, using a wet cloth or sponge and the leaves will appear shiny and glossy again. During the festive season, we will tie red ribbons and/or gold coins/ornaments on the stems to activate good chi.

I put my ZZ plants, one on each side of my main entrance door.

We can find lots of blooming kalanchoes during this season. This is a double flower type with striking pink. I am also learning to grow kalanchoes this year.

This looks like the single flower kalanchoe with bright red blooms. I am looking for a kalanchoe with yellow flowers now.

My anthuriums are pinkish white.

This is the Torenia fournieri (blue wings or wishbone flower). My brother's neighbour in Ipoh gave it to me. I started with a single blue Torenia. It had bloomed and died and disappeared from my garden with no offspring. Months later, I begin to notice baby plants near the area where I had placed my pot of Torenia plants. I had planted a blue Torenia but now I am pleasantly surprised to find some pink ones too. I have 2 colours now. Ms Neighbour did inform me that she has the blue and pink ones in her garden. When she dug out a seedling and gave it to me, she didn't know what colour the flowers will be.

Now, I am wondering how can a blue flower parent give rise to pink flower plants?

The flowers of my pineapple plant has finished blooming. This is the fruit as I photograph it today. It is not big but from my experience it is about the biggest it can get. I am growing it in a flower pot. I am extra happy whenever my pineapple plant blooms. In Hokkien dialect, pineapple is "ong lai", meaning that good luck is coming. This is the first time it blooms during the lunar new year season, so this fruit is very precious to me.

My curry leaf plant (Murraya koenigii) has also bloomed and borne fruits. Some of the fruits which had earlier dropped to the ground has given rise to a few baby plants. This is a native plant of Sri Lanka and it is easily grown in South East Asia. We grow them in our backyards for the fragrant curry leaves which is used in cooking.
Post publication update:
If you are growing this plant in the temperate climate and have written a post about it, can you please put your link to your post in a comment here?

The links are as follows:
1. Dave's Garden - plant details and comments from temperate zone gardeners
2. Cal's Plant of the Week - Cal Lemp and University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology info website. Planting details here.
3. The Exotic Garden by Will Giles, as recommended by Andrea.

I had a pleasant surprise just as I was getting ready to start my prayers on the morning of Lichun Day, 4th Feb. I was overjoyed to see this dendrobium or dove orchid flower. It usually only blooms for one day. There were 6 flowers this time. I have written a post about this orchid here.

This is how the dendrobium looks when viewed from above.

Doesn't it look like a dove?

I have another pleasant surprise during my Lichun prayers. Blastoise, my pet tortoise has stumbled into my living room and positioned himself at the altar of my Earth God. Now he looks like those auspicious tortoise feng shui ornaments that people place at the Earth God altar.

I wonder what he is looking for?

My post today is dedicated to Andrea from the Philippines of Andrea in this Lifetime blog, the first commenter of my previous post on the "Solanum mammosum". Andrea recently used the word 'serendipity' to describe ourselves. We met as strangers in cyberspace and somehow one thing led to another. We corresponded via email and supported each other in blogging and now we are communicating like old friends. The most recent coincidence was quite stunning. She had took time off during a meeting to photograph an unusual plant called the nipple fruit and posted it in her blog. I read her post and bingo! She had just identified the plant that I had earlier drafted a post on but couldn't publish it because I didn't know its name. Is this what we called fate or Yuanfen (缘份) ?

This is my entry for the 1st Blooming Friday of February 2010. The theme this week is "something growing that makes me extra happy right now. Well, well, I am extra happy with all the blooms shown here. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.
This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Solanum mammosum, Auspicious Chinese New Year Fruit

These bright yellow fruits are those of the Solanum mammosum, a perennial plant that has lots of thorns on the leaves or stems, bears purple flowers and looks like a small tree or shrub when grown here. It shares the same family with the tomato and potato. All parts of the plant are poisonous. However, it is regarded as a very auspicious plant for the Lunar New Year season. The secret is in the fruits that are pear shaped and has 5 protrusions. These protrusions look like teats or nipples but we like to call it 'fingers' which in Cantonese sounds like 'ji' (子), meaning sons.

Family: Solanaceae
Botanical name: Solanum mammosum
Common name: Nipplefruit, Titty Fruit, Cow's Udders, Apple of Sodom
Malay name: terung susu kambing (goat's milk eggplant)
Origin: South America

In Chinese it is written as 五代同堂 - wu dai tong tang, meaning Five Generations Living Harmoniously Under One Roof. This would mean a family having great-great grandparents, great grandparents, grandparents, parents and children living harmoniously together in the same household. This would mean longevity, prosperity and happiness for the family. Ain't that nice?

It was highly sought after during last year when it was an Ox year. The whole fruit looks like a cow's udder. When you cut the fruit into two and then draw 2 eyes on it, it will look like a cow's head.

It used to be quite cheap but it has become a popular Chinese New Year decorative plant in recent years. The one in the picture will cost at least RM 80.00 per pot and a stalk is sold at around RM 13.00.

Andrea of Andrea in this Lifetime has nice pictures of this plant in her latest post, "Nipple Fruit, again unusual in this part of the world!". I have her to thank for identifying the botanical name of this plant for me.

I took this picture from the nursery in Sg Buloh where I like to go to buy my Chinese New Year Plants. This nursery called Ah Chui Nursery has a lot of varieties of very good quality plants at reasonably cheap prices. I mean plants that bloom at the right time and continue to bloom and live long after the season is over.

My grandmother story:
When I was little, my grandparents were the caretakers of a temple and we used to grow such a solanum plant. My grandma called it the 5-finger fruit and she took good care of the plant. Our fruits were green at first which later changed to yellow when ripe. I used to wonder why such a thorny plant with fruits that cannot be eaten can be so precious to her. Whenever the fruits ripen, my job would be to pluck them, arrange them nicely on a plate and place it on the altars as prayer offerings. It was treated like precious commodity. My grandma's dream was to live a long life with many many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. How proud and wise she must have felt if only she achieved her target. In Chinese culture, we always have great respect for the eldest (oldest) member of the household. Even the great grandmom of Emperors have super duper titles and they are usually very influential members of the imperial family. I used to imagine the solanum fruits were apples with 5 fingers at the bottom. Other devotees who came to visit the temple were attracted to the unique looking fruits and asked us for some to take home. Those were the days. When I look back I remember that I really have lots of fond memories of a carefree childhood spent in this old little temple, helping my grandma and playing with my cousins and siblings. I learnt to climb trees, played with dirt, catch fishes, dragonflies and damselflies and we children also became foster parents of stray puppies, kittens and tortoises. We also reared chickens, goose, turkeys and ducks, at different times of course. I really enjoyed my childhood in the outdoors and I was quite a tomboy then. Getting whacked by my illiterate but wise grandma was part and parcel of growing up. In fact, I love her more for not 'sparing the rod and spoiling the child'.

There are many more Chinese New Year plants in my first post titled, "Auspicious Plants for Chinese New Year". To read more, click here.

My post today is dedicated to Ms Grace Peterson of Gardening with Grace, from Albany, USA. She was the first commenter of my previous post, Lichun The First Day of Spring. She is a great writer of a beautiful garden blog.


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