New plant to rival kumquats?


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 10 Jan 2004

BY CHRISTINA KOH

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Kumquats and flowers may be traditional items used to decorate the homes to usher in the Chinese New Year. 

But of late, some people are turning to less known plants that are also believed to bring good luck. 

One of these is the unusual-looking gourd plant, which is touted as the Fruit of Prosperity. 

Teoh Yong Meng, a nursery director, said the fruit, which is locally known as terung tetek kambing (Solanum mammosum), had become a popular decorative plant in Singapore because its name signified the coming together of five generations in a family. 

GOURD PLANT: Teoh with the terung tetek kambing grown at his nursery at Bertam Valley in Cameron Highlands.

The plant that symbolised family reunion was an important aspect which Chinese families looked forward to every year, said the 46-year-old Teoh. 

The fruit, which resembles the udders of a goat, turns bright orange when it ripens, also represents prosperity to the Chinese, said Teoh, adding that the colour would remain for seven months.  

Teoh recalled that when he first started growing the plant last year, he was unable to sell much of the fruit because it looked strange. 

He said he was only able to sell 400 stalks of the plant last year but was optimistic that there could be a greater demand for it this time. 

“This year, I plan to sell the plant to florists in Kuantan as there will be a demand for it,” he said when met at the plant nursery at Bertam Valley, about 1,300m above sea level, here. 

He noted that he decided to grow the plant because he was attracted to the unique shape of the fruit after spotting it in China. 

He added that the plant was meant to be decorative and should not be eaten although a visitor claimed that it could be consumed after boiling it. 

Another species sold as an auspicious plant for the Chinese New Year is the limau jari (Citrus medica var sarcodactylis), which is also known as the Buddha’s Palm.  

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