Apricot Blossoms in High Demand Ahead of Chinese New Year

Bloomed Apricot Blossoms: Photo: Thorng Broney

SIEM REAP – Yellow apricot blossoms are one of the most popular flower trees among Chinese-Cambodian households before the Lunar New Year, which will be celebrated on Feb. 9. Believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and wealth, the flower only blooms once a year from mid-January to late February. 

While some gardeners nurture plants all year round to be ready for the New Year’s celebrations, others harvest plants directly from the forest to sell their flowers. 

Phuong Thei, a resident of Ta Kong village, Sam Bour commune, Siem Reap municipality, plants apricot blossoms every year around her house. Retail sellers always come to her house to buy her products, taking either the whole tree or only a few branches with flowers, depending on their needs. 

The cut branches of yellow Apricot Blossoms. Photo_ Thorng Broney 

She earns between $50 to $100 for a whole tree, as the price depends on the size of the blossoms. While some trees have already bloomed, others still have green leaves a few days before the celebrations start. But they should bloom right on time for the New Year.

Thei’s apricot blossoms are chemical-free, said the Siem Reap resident. She added they grow naturally at this time of the year, so there is no need to add any intrants to them.

She said that she nonetheless had to cut down some of the branches to give more space for the flowers to bloom.

Another villager, Mean Moeury, said other people prefer to go pick up the trees directly in the forest, even though it requires more preparation.

While in the past they used to go look for apricot blossom trees in the forest of Kampong Thom province as a team of 10 people, only Moeury and her husband made the trip this year.

Plantation of Yellow Apricot Blossoms. Photo_ Thorng Broney

The couple asked local villagers where the best trees were, to collect some of their branches for cuttings around 20 days before the New Year.

Once harvested, the cuttings are soaked in water overnight. Old leaves should be removed and branches organized. The trees are then placed in a container with water and must be watered three times a day.

When flower trees blossom, Moeury arranges them on her bicycle and sells them close to Siem Reap’s market. 

A bunch of blossoms can be sold for 40,000 to 50,000 riel ($10 to $12.5). But branches without any opened flowers can only be sold for 5,000 to 10,000 riel ($1.25 to $2.5).

Victim of its success, the number of apricot blossoms is decreasing because people overuse them. In Siem Reap’s Sam Bour and Dangkum communes, the trees have almost disappeared because people constantly cut their branches or even dig trees out of the ground for their good fortune. 

In other regions, landowners have turned formerly wooded land into farms, reducing the areas where apricot blossom trees can grow wild.


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Meng Seavmey for Cambodianess.

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