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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bunga tongkeng _flowers that perfume the night air and adorn a nyonya's sanggul

Bunga tongkeng _flowers that perfume the night air and adorn a nyonya's sanggul

As the night breeze seeps through the half-opened window, bearing the soft fragrance of bunga tongkeng, it stirs a memory  _memory of our childhood home in Kuala Pilah. 

The bunga tongkeng plant just beside the living room

I remember, in the front compound of the house, just beside the concrete steps, mother had planted a bunga tongkeng plant. At night we would often sit at the veranda and enjoy the caress of the cool breeze that blew in from the field and take in the fragrance of the bunga tongkeng.  While father read and listened to the golden oldies from an old Grundig radio, mother would knit, do embroidery work, beadwork or make paper flowers. We watched, enthralled, as her deft fingers magically transformed ordinary crepe papers into life-like bunga tongkeng. The paper flowers were used as hair accessory to adorn her sanggul or given away as gifts to relatives and friends.

When the bunga tongkeng plant was in bloom mother would , occasionally, pick the flowers and stir-fried them with eggs, as it was believed that the flowers were good for the eyesight, besides their nutritional value.

Today, we have a bunga tongkeng plant growing on a trellis in our own garden, in Melaka. 

The bunga tongkeng plant in the garden

However, the many people who walk up and down  the driveway or tread the garden path, barely notice its presence. I wonder if  today's young generation have seen the bunga tongkeng or even heard of it. 

The bunga tongkeng or tonkin jasmine ( telosma cordata ) is a flowering creeper, native to China. The plant has heart-shaped leaves and the woody stems bear clusters of golden yellow flowers.

Bunga tongkeng on an arbour

A cluster of bunga tongkeng

Although, the plant can be propagated from cuttings, simple layering method will ensure better success.

Here is a simple layering method which I have used to propagate
the bunga tongkeng. 

Things you may require

1. A small plastic hanging flower pot.

2. Good potting soil

3. Two length of plastic-coated clothes line wire bent into U shape


1. Select a healthy, matured stem

2. Scrape the part of the stem where you want the plant to root.

3. Hang a plastic pot filled with potting soil close to a stem of 
    the parent plant ( see pic 1 )

Pic 1

4. Bend the stem and place the wounded section in the potting soil and secure firmly with the two U-shaped wires( see pic 2, 3 and 4)

Pic 2

Pic 3

Pic 4

5. Cover the section of the stem with more potting soil.

6. Water regularly until the stem has taken roots.

7.  Cut off the stem from the parent plant. You can transfer the 
     newly rooted plant to the ground or a bigger pot.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I come across your blog while searching for Bunga Tong Keng. I grew up in Kelantan and now living in Singapore. This is my favorite childhood dish and I'd love to grow this plant in my garden here. Possible to get a stem from you please? Thanks! with regards,