Set in the heart of Southeast Asia, Myanmar is a land of great contrasts, shimmering pagodas, and a rich tapestry of cultures. As the monsoon clouds prepare to embrace the nation, two flowers blossom, capturing the essence of its traditions and the spirit of its people.
The Padauk and the Thazin are not just flowers; they’re emblematic symbols, interwoven into the country’s cultural fabric. Their golden blooms and fragrant scents stand as radiant reminders of Myanmar’s unique heritage.
Dive with us into a world where these flowers reign supreme, and discover why they’re so cherished by the people of Myanmar.
Description of The Padauk and The Thazin
Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus)
The Padauk, often referred to as the Thingyan flower, is a marvel to behold. Classified under the Pterocarpus genus, it’s a deciduous tree renowned for its vibrant yellow-gold flowers. These blossoms, delicate yet profound, cluster together, casting a golden hue upon the entire tree, especially during April.
The scent, fragrant and refreshing, lingers in the air, inviting all to bask in its beauty. One might even say that the Padauk’s appearance serves as an announcement of the imminent Myanmar New Year Festival. This tree doesn’t just bloom; it celebrates.
Thazin (Bulbophyllum auricomum)
On the other side of the floral spectrum lies the Thazin, an orchid of unparalleled elegance. Its blooms are small yet mesmerizing – pristine white flowers that dangle gracefully from bright green pear-shaped bulbs. As the lunar calendar heralds the arrival of Nataw, or December, the Thazin adorns the landscape with its chic demeanor.
While its appearance might be understated compared to the flamboyant Padauk, its fragrance is anything but. The scent, delicate and sophisticated, is a favorite among Myanmar’s ladies, many of whom adorn their hair with these ethereal blossoms.
Where Do The Padauk and The Thazin Grow?
The Padauk is indigenous to the tropical regions of Myanmar and thrives in its monsoonal climate. The tree is commonly found dotting the landscapes from the bustling streets of Yangon to the serene terrains of Mandalay and the many towns and villages in between.
With a preference for well-drained soils and warm temperatures, the Padauk stands tall and magnificent, often reaching considerable heights. Though Myanmar is its primary home, its range extends to other parts of Southeast Asia. However, it’s in Myanmar that the tree truly finds its cultural resonance.
The Thazin, a wild orchid, prefers a slightly different habitat. Originally found deep within the jungles of the Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges, this orchid thrives in humid, shaded environments. While historically it was a challenge to procure, with special envoys journeying into dense forests to collect it, today’s cultivation practices have made it more accessible, albeit still a prized possession.
The Flowers in The Ecosystem
Beyond its cultural significance, the Padauk plays an essential role in the ecosystem. Its dense canopy provides shelter and nesting spaces for various bird species. The tree’s flowers, rich in nectar, attract a myriad of pollinators, from bees to butterflies, ensuring the continuity of the species and aiding in the pollination of other plants in the vicinity.
Moreover, the Padauk’s sturdy timber, known for its strength and durability, not only serves the furniture industry but also acts as a carbon sink, absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The Thazin, being an orchid, has a symbiotic relationship with specific fungi, essential for its growth. This interdependence ensures that the fungi receive nutrients while aiding the orchid’s roots in nutrient absorption.
Additionally, the Thazin’s fragrant flowers, with their alluring scent, play a pivotal role in attracting specific pollinators, ensuring the reproduction of the orchid and contributing to the biodiversity of the region. The delicate balance between the Thazin and its pollinators is a testament to nature’s intricate web of relationships.
Why and When Did The Padauk and The Thazin Become the National Flowers of Myanmar?
The Padauk, with its vibrant yellow-gold flowers, isn’t just a visual treat; it’s deeply entrenched in the ethos of Myanmar. Symbolizing strength and durability due to the resilience of the tree itself, its flowers are emblematic of youth, love, and romance. The choice of the Padauk as Myanmar’s national flower wasn’t just a nod to its aesthetic appeal, but a celebration of the values the country holds dear.
Blooming with the first showers of April, the Padauk also heralds the onset of the Myanmar New Year and is synonymous with the jubilant Thingyan (Water Festival).
While the exact date of its designation as the national flower isn’t documented, its association with the country’s culture and traditions is time immemorial. The Padauk isn’t just a tree or a flower; it’s an emotion, a sentiment that resonates with every citizen of Myanmar.
Thazin, though less popular than the Padauk, holds its own in the annals of Myanmar’s heritage. Once a symbol of royalty, it was so rare that only members of the monarchy could adorn themselves with its delicate blossoms. Its symbolism lies in its elegance and rarity, signifying purity, grace, and a deep connection to Myanmar’s regal past.
The fragrance of the Thazin, subtle yet captivating, adds another layer to its allure. This orchid, with its historical ties and ethereal beauty, rightly earns its place as one of Myanmar’s national flowers.
Where Are The Padauk and The Thazin Featured in Myanmar?
The Padauk‘s significance is evident in its omnipresence during the Thingyan festival. From Yangon’s bustling streets to Mandalay’s serene lanes, the Padauk is everywhere – adorning homes, temples, public spaces, and even vehicles. Women often weave these flowers into their hair or fashion them into long necklaces, a testament to the flower’s integral role in Myanmar’s traditions.
With the onset of the New Year, households rush to offer the first bloom to Buddha, a ritual steeped in devotion and reverence. The flower’s ubiquity isn’t limited to physical spaces; it’s a recurring motif in Burmese art, literature, pottery, and ceramics.
The Thazin‘s graceful shoots are a favorite among Myanmar’s ladies, adding charm to their intricate hairdos. Historically, depictions of 55 different women’s coiffures from the Bagan Period featured the Thazin prominently.
Though not as widespread as the Padauk, Thazin holds a special place in Myanmar’s cultural events. Be it an ear-boring ceremony or a wedding; the Thazin, whether natural or crafted from paper, is sure to make an appearance, emphasizing its enduring appeal.
Names of The Padauk and The Thazin
Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus): While globally known as Padauk, this radiant tree is also colloquially referred to as the Thingyan flower in Myanmar, thanks to its blooming season coinciding with the Thingyan festival.
This magnificent tree, with its rich, reddish timber, is sometimes called the “Burmese Rosewood” in the woodworking circles. It’s important to distinguish it from the Cassia fistula, Thailand’s national flower, as both tend to have a similar profusion of yellow flowers during their bloom.
Thazin (Bulbophyllum auricomum): The Thazin is predominantly called so in Myanmar, making it quite distinctive. However, the botanical classification places it under the Bulbophyllum genus, which includes over 2,000 orchid species. Due to this extensive genus, the Thazin might be related to, and possibly confused with, other Bulbophyllum orchids in different regions.
Interesting Facts About The Padauk and The Thazin
- The wood of the Padauk tree, famed for its strength and durability, is a top choice for furniture design.
- Artists and poets in Myanmar frequently draw inspiration from the Padauk, with its representation found in various forms of art and literature.
- Padauk blooms are traditionally presented in a silver bowl as gifts to deities during the New Year celebrations.
- During the era of Myanmar’s monarchy, the Thazin was exclusively reserved for royalty due to its rarity.
- The Thazin flower is traditionally associated with the month of Nataw (December) in the Myanmar lunar calendar.
- A poignant love song from the late Konbaung Period, composed by Princess Hlaing Hteik Khaung Tin, beautifully incorporates the Thazin, showcasing its deep cultural significance.
How to Grow The Padauk and The Thazin
- Climate: Thrives in tropical climates with high humidity.
- Soil: Prefers well-draining soil rich in organic matter.
- Sunlight: Requires full sunlight for optimal growth.
- Watering: Regular watering is essential, but ensure the soil isn’t waterlogged.
- Climate: As an orchid, Thazin flourishes in tropical, humid environments.
- Soil: Requires an orchid mix, typically a blend of bark, moss, and perlite.
- Sunlight: Enjoys bright, indirect sunlight. Direct exposure can scorch its leaves.
- Watering: Orchids need to be watered sparingly. The medium should almost dry out between watering sessions.
Other Beautiful Flowers Found in Myanmar
Myanmar, with its diverse ecosystems and unique geographical location, is home to a myriad of captivating floral species. Here’s a selection of other native flowers that not only add to the country’s natural beauty but also hold cultural significance:
- Dendrobium anosmum: Known locally as “Thandar Bo”, this orchid variety is renowned for its pleasant fragrance and beautiful, long-lasting blooms.
- Jasminum sambac: Also called “Sabai” in Myanmar, this jasmine variety is particularly fragrant at night and is used in traditional ceremonies.
- Rosa multiflora: The wild rose of Myanmar, locally known as “Nant Thaley”, is often found blooming in forest clearings and has been a symbol of love and beauty in Burmese literature.
- Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): A symbol of purity and enlightenment, the lotus is not just revered for its beauty but also has religious significance in Buddhism.
- Dipterocarpus alatus: Commonly known as “Gurjan” or “Garjan” tree, its resins are traditionally used for waterproofing and its timber for construction.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the national flowers of Myanmar?
Myanmar has two national flowers: the Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) and the Thazin (Bulbophyllum auricomum).
When does the Padauk tree bloom?
The Padauk tree blossoms in April, especially after the first showers, coinciding with the Myanmar New Year Festival.
Is the Padauk similar to Thailand’s national flower?
Yes, the Padauk is often mistaken for Cassia fistula, which is the national flower of Thailand, due to its yellow-gold blooms.
Why is the Thazin considered a royal flower?
In the days of the Myanmar monarchy, Thazin was so rare that only royal family members were allowed to wear it.
What are some other symbols of Myanmar?
Apart from the national flowers, the peacock is a national symbol, representing the grace and beauty of the country.