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, March 5, 2010

Kesidang, Vallaris glabra, Bread Flowers

The kesidang flower is a symbol of the grace, charm and beauty of traditional Malay culture. Hence it was selected as the state flower of the historical city of Malacca. It was a popular flower a long time ago but quite a rarity now. Kesidang was documented by G.E. Rumphius in his works on the Herbarium Amboinense, a catalogue of plants of the Indonesian Archipelago, during the 17th century.

Malay ladies liked to wear kesidang flowers in their 'sanggul' (hair combed into a bun). Kesidang flowers were very popular then. Perfumed flowers like the Kenaga (Canaga odorata), Yellow Chempaka (Michelia champaca), White Chempaka (Michelia alba), Bunga Tanjung (Mimusops elengi) and Arabian Jasmine (Jasminum sambac); were often used at weddings and kenduris (feasts) where the flowers were scattered on banquet tables and made into garlands to decorate festive arches. These flowers acted as natural perfume. Kesidang plants were commonly found at temple grounds, churches and stately homes, and the flowers used widely by Malay ladies, Malaccan 'nyonya' (Straits Chinese ladies) and also the Chitty (Peranakan Indian) ladies.

Botanical name: Vallaris glabra
Common name: Kesidang, Kerak Nasi, Tikar Seladang, Melati Bali, Bread Flowers.
Family: Apocynaceae
Native of: Java, Indonesia
Photo taken at: Rooftop Secret Garden of 1Utama

Kesidang is also known as Kerak Nasi in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia, Tikar Seladang or Tikam Seladang in the east coast states, Sikudangan in Johor state and Bread Flowers in the west.

"Kerak Nasi" means rice crusts. "Tikar" means mat while "Tikam" is grip. "Seladang" is a wild oxen which is native to South East Asia. The clusters of little white flowers has the colour of and the aroma of rice crusts, hence the name 'kerak nasi'.

In Pakistan, it is known as Soniya or Buttercup Vine.

Kesidang is grown for its flowers which are very fragrant. It has the scent of cooked pandan leaves. Some people say it smells like slightly burnt rice, hence the name 'kerak nasi'. Some say it smell like freshly cooked fragrant rice. I think it smells like nasi lemak! Yet some others tell me it's a love-hate affair. Either you love the fragrance or you hate it. Those who hate it can't stand the scent as it gives them a headache or migrane. I love it because I love pandan and I also love the scent of slightly burnt rice.

Kesidang flower is an ingredient in the making of 'bunga rampai' or potpourri used at Malay weddings and spas. The ingredients used are fresh rose petals, thinly sliced pandan leaves, fresh champacca petals, kesidang, jasmine and plumeria flowers. Mix them all together in a bowl with a few drops of jasmine oil and put the bowl in a room or near a bed for a romantic aromathery.

Peranakan people like to sprinkle bunga rampai flowers on the marital bed.

Put the ingredients in a potpourri bag and you can hang it in the car as an air freshener. Place some kesidang flowers on your work desk. Its mild but lasting aromatic scent is very therapeutic. It soothes and calms your nerves.

Kesidang is a tender, tropical perennial woody climber that can grow up to a height of 6-10ft. It is suitable for pergolas and trellis, can be trimed it into a bush or hedge or grown in a container. It needs full sun exposure for it to bloom. This plant is easy to care for and it is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of conditions. Water it regularly but do not overwater. It's flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. When plucking the flowers, be careful of the white sap that oozes out. If it gets onto your hands, it may be difficult to wash off with just soap and water.

Propagation is by layering, i.e. marcotting (air layering) and ground layering. Anchor a portion of the stem to the ground with a brick. Roots and shoots will grow to develope into a new plant.

I can still find the kesidang in suburban areas and the countryside. The photos in this post is taken at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama. You can also find a specimen tree growing on a pergola at the Kuala Lumpur Hibiscus Garden. We can buy the seedling from nurseries around town for about RM 10.00. This plant is also listed in the websites of Top Tropicals and Dave's Garden.

Like in the old days, kesidang is best grown near a balcony, in the patio or beside a window. When you open the window in the morning, a fresh light fragrance fills your room and linger in the air. On a pergola, it branches out like an umbrella, so put a bench underneath where you can sit down and enjoy its aromatic scent. Many folks here have fond memories of carefree days in the kampung or village, playing and chatting with friends under the kesidang tree.

I am extremely delighted to dedicate this post to Ms Ami from Florida, USA, of Southeast Florida Garden Evolvement blog. She was my first commenter for my previous post titled, "Lily Magnolia Flower." I am so happy to find her blog which is filled with many many lovely plants and flowers very similar to those in my own country.

Updated on 24 Jan 2013 - For those who understand the Malay language, here's a pantun/gurindam from my My Nice Garden Chat Group in Facebook:

En Abu Hassan Jalil -"Kekadang terpandang Kelulut sedang bersidang di bunga kesidang".

Ms Junie Lee - "Keharumannya tidak terhingga kata, maka menawan kelulut tuk bersidang di persidangan Khas bunga kesidang!"

(The words are posted here with their permission).

1.You can click on the links provided at places where text are in green.
2. To view my article about the Kesidang "Scented Gardens" published by New Straits Times, click here.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 1st week of March 2010. 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


  1. "When you open the window in the morning, a fresh light fragrance fills your room and linger in the air."

    That is great.

  2. I grew it for its sweet little flowers and fragrance but it is no more standing by my perimeter fence. Thanks for the lovely write-up of kesidang.

  3. Autumn Belle: I feel so honored for your dedication! Thank you! Thanks for introducing another plant to me! When I was reading, I was trying to "smell" that fragrance you described in my mind, and wonder if that will be something I like. I would think so, since I also like the smell of "burnt rice"! LOL

  4. Its strange that I really have not come across this kesidang flower nor its fragrance.
    Does the fragrance comes out all day or only at certain times?

  5. I always love learning more about the beautiful plants you feature. I love the creamy color of this flower in particular.

  6. Wow they must have lots of this tree in Malacca those days. Nice state flower and for women to wear on their head. The flower looks like it could last the whole day.

  7. Dear Autumn Belle, What an absolutely lovely climber and one I very much wish I could grow.

    I was fascinated at the brief history you have given of this plant and the uses to which the flowers are put. I do so enjoy these glimpses into a different and very interesting culture.

    Happy weekend!

  8. Fascinating knowledge, and so much...I wonder if I would love or hate the fragrance. Anyhow, a beautiful flower. Have a nice weekend!

  9. It was good to read about Kesidang, which I had seen ten years ago in a garden. Thanks for so much information. Have a great weekend!

  10. Rainfield, I hope you can find kesidang at Cerok Tekun.

    Keats, thanks for sharing with us your fond memories.

    Kimberly, you have described it well, it does look like splendid little stars!

    Ami, I'm wondering how exoctic it will look in your garden.

    James, it seems the fragrance is more pronounced in the mornings and evenings. You are not the only one who have not heard about Kesidang. I think many others, especially youngsters living in the cities wouldn't have either. Me too. I first learnt about kesidang at The Secret Garden of 1U. I was wondering why some makchiks/madams were exclaiming and specially interested in the kesidang. Now, I know why.

    Noelle, Edith, Stephanie, I'm glad you have enjoyed learning what I have learnt about this plant.

    Lillebeth, I tried to smell the flowers and found that I liked it. Now, I wonder why it is called bread flowers. Has it got to do with smell of bread or the white colour of bread?

  11. What a delightful flower here, and to open your windows in the morning to have that fresh fragrance float on the breeze would be divine!

  12. This is a very interesting post and the photos are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Such a beautiful flower, like a bouqet. Actuelly, it reminds me a bit of Hoya flowers, the shape of it. I would so like to see it 'live' and feel it's fragance :)

  14. Waht a charmingly beautirul flower! Love fragrances, this seems to be right up my alley.

  15. I don't think I've come across these flowers and they are just so sweet. I'll have to check my botanical gardens to see if they are there.

  16. aloha,

    what a treat, a new scented flower for me to discover, i'll have to see if its available at our annual big island sales....

    i loved visiting melacca, it is a special place and very walkable also...thank you for giving us an insight to your world

  17. Oh how I wish I could grow this in my part of the country but I am sure it would not live in zone 4. I love learning about plants so thank you for such an informative post. I hope some day to see one in real life and to smell that sweet smell.

  18. the vine has a really nice shape. I still haven't tried pandan yet. I wonder if I would like the fragrance of this flower?

  19. Lovely writeup on the Kesidang! Strange that I'm ignorant of its lovely existence...hehe, not that I know all that are growing in our beloved country, huh!
    You have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

  20. Fascinating that it tastes like slightly burnt rice. I hope I get to smell one sometime in the future!

  21. Hello Autumn Belle, It is so interesting to read the history of this plant and its beautiful flowers. I should love to learn more about Rumphius and his Herbarium Amboinense. Quite a stunning flower is this Bread Flower ... I can see why it is call a flower of grace. A very lovely and interesting post! ;>) Carol

  22. I'm sure the scent of this pretty climber is divine! Thanks for sharing!

  23. these are beautiful! I had not heard of them until today!!! thanks for sharing with me!

  24. Beautiful flowers and excellent botanical information.
    Thank you ..

  25. Hi Autumn Belle, maybe i will be the last to visit here coz it's now Sunday night. Most of our plants are the same but this one i have not seen here in the country. You mentioned Jasminum sambac, we call it sampaguita and is our national flower. I am familiar with its scent and if kesidang's scent is like sampaguita, then it is very sweet. However it is just a small plant unlike your kesidang. I wish to have sweet smelling plants at the corner of our garden to give more fascinating fragrance in the air. However, even my gardenia died before it had flowers.

    That is a beautiful and informative post.

  26. how lovely to come here to see yet another flower I have never heard of. Thanks Autumn belle for sharing.

  27. Hi AB~~ I was just thinking the same thing as Melanie. Another plant I've unfamiliar with. Thank you for sharing.

  28. Thank you, thank you very much for your compliments and nice comments. Like many of you, I am in awe and have fallen in love with the kesidang now. When I first saw it, I knew nothing about this plant. I was puzzled why some Malaysians hobbyists were so excited about this kesidang plant. I am very lucky I could smell the authentic 'rice crusts' smell at The Secret Garden of 1U. I have asked many many people but most of them are ignorant about this graceful plant.

    This is a wonderful plant which I'd like to grow in my garden.

  29. I am lucky to have a beautiful kesidang growing over my pergola. It flowers profusely and I can enjoy the fragrance from my kitchen window. Can anyone tell me how to prune the plant to keep it neat and compact?

  30. KSM, Welcome to My Nice Garden. First, you can twirl, turn and position the soft stems and vines around the pergola. Then cut off any stray branches.

  31. Dear Autumn Belle,

    When I was growing up in Trengganu, we had a kesidang twining on a pergola by the well in our compound. As you say, the makchiks loved it, but I found the scent quite repelling. When they were in bloom, we'd pick the flowers and sell them to the flower sellers in the market in front of our house. Now that I am older the scent of the kesidang reminds of days gone by, another place where I grew up. And it leaves me quite invigorated. Thanks for this wonderful write-up. I have benefitted from your dedication.

  32. My breadflower plant doesnt flower. What can I do to provoke it besides adding fertiliser?

    1. 1 = Go natural, expose it to freely available sunlight.

  33. This plant flowers intermitently, i.e. it has an unpredictable pattern. Make sure the plant is growing well before if you wish to apply a flowering fertilizer (a few pieces of red pellet type) ti induce flowering. I use a general purpose liquie organic fertilizer and chicken manure pellets on mine. If plant is happy, it will flower.

  34. I have this plant near my patio. Only began to bloom after two years. This plant has a very strange white fungus and has a very soft white flying insects that are destroying the plant. Do u know what is it and how to eliminate it organically?

  35. Hi, Joanne. Welcome to My Nice Garden! If the white bugs are around the stems and leaves, they seem to be mealy bugs. You can try using organic neem spray which can be purchased from home centers like ACE Hardward at 1-Utama. You can also try those chili/garlic/vinegar remedies - try google on 'how to' do so. You can prune off the affected leaves, branches. It will grow back.

    If the above actions fail to achieve the desired results, then it is better to plant a new Kesidang.

    If it is white fungus disease, e.g. white patches on the soil, this is more serious. Dump the whole plant and soil before it infects other plants next to it. Disinfect the container before reuse.

  36. It's nearly a year but my kesidang plants have yet to flower. Please advise.

    1. 1 = Expose it to more sunlight.
      2 = Add some NITROGEN rich fertilizer.

  37. Hi June, welcome to My Nice Garden! If your plant is healthy and growing well but has not flower yet, you can try using using a little flowering inducer fertilizer. If you need any help, you can also post a picture of your plant on my facebook page.

  38. Thank U for the great info in Kesidang. .my vine is flowering right now :)

  39. Are the flowers edible? Thanks

    1. Sharon, I'm not sure if the flowers are edible or not. I have not come across anyone who has tried eating the flowers yet.


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