Monday, December 21, 2009

Jasminum sambac - Melur 茉莉花

Jasminum sambac, is a shrubby flower native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World, of the Oleaceae ( olive ) family. The name Jasmine derived from the Persian yasmin, of which means 'gift from god'. The botanic name sambac is derived from a misapplication of the Sanskrit name champaca, which refers to the fragrant flowered shrub Michelia champaca.

The Jasminum family consists of some 200 species, loosely known as jasmines. It is also known as jasmin ( Portugal ), jasmine ( France ), pikake / pikaki ( Hawaii ). mallipu ( Tamil ), mogra ( Hindi ), sanoagyuta ( Tagalog ) , mallika ( Sanskrit ), melati ( Indonesia, Malaysia ), melur ( Malaysia ), and 茉莉花 ( China ). 

Cultivated species includes J. abyssinicum ( forest jasmine ), J. adenophyllum ( pinwheel jasmine ), J. cichotomum ( Gold Coast jasmine ), J. grandiflorum ( Spanish jasmine ), J. humile ( Italian yellow jasmine ), J. mesnvi ( Japanese jasmine ), J. odoratissimum ( yellow jasmine ), J. officinale ( common jasmine ) J. parkeri ( dwart jasmine ) and J. polyantum.

Jasminum sambac ( Arabian jasmine ) is among the most popularly cultivated jasmine flower. It is native to southwestern and southern Asia. Cultivated as an ornamental plant for its strongly scented flowers, it is an evegreen shrub, capable to reach 3m in height. The leaves are simple, opposite, ovate, 4 - 12.5cm long and 2 - 7.5cm broad. The fowers are white, strongly scented, in clusters of 3 - 12, corolla 2 - 3m diameter with 5 - 9 lobes. The flowers open at night and close in the morning. The fruit is a purple-black berry, 1 cm in diameter.

In China, J. sambac is consumed as jasmine-flower tea ( 茉莉花茶 ). The flowers also mixed with green tea to make jasmine tea ( 香片 ).

In the Philippines and Indonesia, the J. sambac was adopted as their national flower.

In many countries, including, Hawaii, the Philippines, and India, the J. sambac flower is made into leis, corsages, crowns for welcoming guests, and as garlands on women’s hair.

The Hindus and Buddhist often use the flower as an offering to their deities.

Even though jasmine is loosely refers to the flowers of Jasminum genus, it also refers to other genus of scented flowers :
Trachelospermon jasmioides - Star Jasmin 络石 – ( Apocynaceae )
Gardenia jasminoides - Cape Jasmin 梔子 – ( Rubiaceae )
Gelsemium sempervirens - Carolina Jasmine – ( Gelsemiaceae )
Millingtonia hortensis - Tree Jasmine – ( Bignoniaceae )
Nyctanthes arbo-tristis - Night-flowering Jasmin – ( Lamiaceae )
Cestrum nocturnum - Night-blooming Jasmin 夜來香  - ( Solanaceae )
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