Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Little of Magical Myth

Sea lettuce (Scaevola taccada)
Bottom half

Upper half

On my first day at the Botanical Garden of Putrajaya, I was brought for a tour with a buggy ride with Mr. Yoge, the senior supervisor of the outdoor team. He told me that the garden is 63 acres of 230 acres of land with another two phases to be completed soon. There are about 750 species of plants from 90 countries of Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Tropical America. Yoge have been working there for the past three years and he is so well versed with the garden and its content. He told me the name of each plant with its local and scientific names which impressed me very much. He also told me the usage and medicinal values of the plants and sometimes stories of local believes or myths related to it.

There was this type of palm tree that is used to make toddy (some kind of alcohol drink) and another that can be made rum, there was a bamboo which is called ‘the buddha’s belly bamboo’; there were tower trees that looked like tress from the dinosaur’s era and many other plants that can cure sicknesses. He showed me how to play with the leaves and the flowers which is fun. Obviously, the tour guides and facilitators are all well versed with what they do. They did a lot of research and continuous learning in perfecting their knowledge and communication skill. I was fascinated and amazed by everything that they showed me on my first day at the Botanical Garden. Although Putrajaya’s Botanical Garden is very young (was opened on the 31st August 2001) as compared to others in the world; with most of the trees are still small and not fully developed, the people working there successfully made it look grand and informative with little resources that they have.

There is one particular plant in the garden that has a romantic myth to it. It is associated with Hawaii’s most famous legends, i.e. the sea lettuce or Scaevola sericea. It is one of most common beach plants in Hawai that grows in abundance in the mountains near the beaches. In Hawai itself, the plant is called ‘naupaka’. There are nine different species of naupaka, which typically grow up to 10 feet tall and six to 15 feet wide. The plant has large leaves with flowers in small clusters. The flowers are typically white with purplish streaks. The fruits are white.

Naupuka is a name believed to be taken after a beautiful Hawaiian princess in ancient time. It has a very unique flower, white in colour that it represents only half flower. It perfectly looks like a normal flower that has been missing the other half. Why does it appear so? Well, the legend goes like this:

The legend says that it was the incarnation of an ancient native separated from her lover. In ancient times, one version goes, there was a beautiful Hawaiian princess known as Naupaka. One day, the villagers noticed that Naupaka looked very sad. They told her parents, who approached Naupaka and asked her what was troubling her.

"I have fallen in love with a man named Kaui," replied the princess. "But Kaui is not of noble birth—he is a commoner." According to Hawaiian tradition, it was strictly forbidden for members of royalty to marry people from the common ranks.

Distressed, Naupaka and Kaui traveled long and far, seeking a solution to their dilemma. They climbed up a mountain to see a kahuna who was staying at a heiau (temple). Alas, he had no clear answer for the young lovers. "There is nothing I can do," he told them, "but you should pray. Pray at this heiau."

So they did. And as they prayed, rain began to fall. Their hearts torn by sorrow, Naupaka and Kaui embraced for a final time. Then Naupaka took a flower from her ear and tore it in half, giving one half to Kaui. "The gods won’t allow us to be together," she said. "You go live down by the water, while I will stay up here in the mountains."

As the two lovers separated, the naupaka plants that grew nearby saw how sad they were. The very next day, they began to bloom in only half flowers.

There are different versions of the naupaka legend, but all carry the same unhappy theme: lovers that are separated forever, one banished to the mountains, the other to the beach. It is said that the other half of the flower can be seen further up the mountain. However, only the flower looks the same while the leaves does not look similar. Look closely at the photos above of the naupuka of different species.

Amazing isn’t it? Well, may be just to me. It doesn’t matter.

It is said that there is a cursed by naupuka that the flower will always be in half until the day she and her lover be reunited.

"Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one". ~Japanese Proverb~


  1. Moral of the story : If you fall in love, never seek solution from Kahuna. You'll waste your time climbing the mountains and due to tiredness, it will then effect your judgement .. thus, making stupid solutions..

    OK tak cikgu? OK tak moral of the story camtu?

  2. Apalah you ni Amir... tak romantic langsung.

    They say, love will make you do stupid things. That's how you know it's a real thing.

    Jadi, the moral of the story for me is that; love hurts but you need it in regardless; like a moth to a flame, better die having than live without.

    Setuju tak? Mesti tak kan....takpelah :)

  3. love makes you do stupid & crazy things. of coz it's only other people who realise that. the ones who are in love are totally oblivious ;)

  4. Yes, you are absolutely right, Oreos :) But it's worth to have that kind of feeling at least once in your life. Don't you think so?

  5. thats a lovely story, even tho it has a rather sad ending. :)

  6. I was just kidding la.. Just the typical me in diverting perception..

  7. just found yr blog... very nice, and sungguh menenangkan heh heh. i like the greens. and i also like the tale of the flowers. cool.



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