The Ratchaphruek, or scientifically known as Cassia Fistula Linn was designated as Thailand’s National Flower back in 2001. It is a large flowering tree, easy to plant anywhere in Thailand and one that is loved by Thais for many reasons.
The Ratchaphruek originates from India although they are easily found in most tropical and sub-tropical region eastward of India such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Myanmar and also comes in many varieties. For one, Indonesia’s variety is purple in color.
The Ratchaphruek is known as “Khun” and “Chaiyaphruek” to the locals can be seen growing throughout the kingdom of Thailand and the best time to see these flowers blooming in its glory is now (between March to May) as the weather turns hotter. The flowers will start to bloom at the end of Thailand’s cool season in February, remaining open throughout the hottest season into late July.
The name ratchaphruek means “royal tree” in Thai, is also popularly known as the Golden Shower Tree because of its soft vibrant yellow flowers that inflorescence downwards in clusters on the tree, making it looks like raindrops.
Its yellow “dok koon” or blossoms correspond to color of Monday, which is the the birth day of the much-loved and respected late King Bhumibol Adulyadei. Yellow is also an auspicious color for the people in Thailand as it symbolizes solidarity, love, harmony and glory as well as the color of Buddhism.
The Ratchaphruek is not only an important flower in the kingdom of Thailand but it is also the state flower of Kerala in India and it was used by the local Malayali people in their sacred rituals during the Vishnu Festivals. The Laotian also associate the Ratchaphruek flowers with their New Year as it is hung in people’s home to attract good fortunes and is used as offerings in temples.
The Ratchaphruek is also the provincial flower for Khon Kaen and Nakhon Si Thammarat and as in Khon Kaen, these Ratchaphruek is planted along roads and they are one of the seasonal attractions each year.
However prior to 2001, Thailand had not named any “official symbols” and it was in October of 2001 that the Ratchaphruek flower joins the the elephant and the pavilion to become the Official Flower, Official Animal and Official Architecture of the Kingdom of Thailand.
City Pillar Temples are commonly found around Thailand as they serve as the foundation of the community and is very much revered by the people. Within the temples, you will actually find a “pillar” which most commonly are made out of Ratchaphruek trunks, as they considered an auspicious tree.
Finally the Ratchaphruek also carries some medicinal values as mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic text ~ as its fruits contain laxative properties. Meanwhile, the tannin in the Ratchaphruek is also used as medicine to help cure diseases such as the heart and prevention of cancer as it is able to act as an antioxidant to eliminate free radicals.
I do hope you did pick up a few interesting facts about the Ratchaphruek flower – the National Flower of Thailand.