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Monday, October 17, 2011

Tan Hua

Also known as Bunga Bakawali or Epiphyllum oxypetallum, this is a plant that flowers roughly once a year - and only at night! Sometimes you might get more than one a year, if you're lucky. (You can see in the picture that we got lucky this year!)

This jungle-dwelling cactus originated from Mexico, Central America, and parts of Brazil. Normally, it's found in high outcrops way above the forest floor. It's found in a lot of Chinese homes, as it is celebrated in many parts of Asia. There's actually a little known Malaysian legend about a spirit that controls the flower so it blooms only one night a year.

Normally, you can smell the fragrance from pretty far off, so it's not too hard to tell when a flower is opening up. Also, after the flower's bloomed, it  makes really good soup! 

The clippings of the stems can be used to replant the flower. This way, the mystery of the tan hua can bloom on in dozens of houses for the next few years.


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