Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Michelia Alba / Cempaka Putih (Chempa)

Dear Diary,

Besides ylang ylang or kenanga, there is another plant in my mother’s garden that produces flowers with intoxicating smell. My mother called it bunga chempa.

When I searched the internet, I came to know that chempa is the same as cempaka. My mother’s cempaka plant blooms into white flowers. When it is in budding stages, sometimes the color looks more towards cream instead of white. When it is in full bloom, it becomes whiter with long slim petals.

Cempaka plant is from family magnoliaceae, genus michelia. What my mother planted in her garden is cempaka putih or michelia alba species. Oil extract from cempaka is widely used in perfumery. Moreover, its leaves and roots also have medicinal values traditionally.

I remember my late grandmother used to decorate her bun or sanggul with bunga cempaka. Oh, how her hair always smelled so densely scented. Nowadays, my mother likes to scatter the flowers on beds. No air freshener in this world can beat the wonderful fragrant of this traditional method.

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