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Magnolia champaca

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Magnolia champaca, known in English as champak,<ref>Template:OED</ref> is a large evergreen tree in the Magnoliaceae family.<ref name=efloras>efloras.org: Flora of China treatment of Michelia (Magnolia) champaca . accessed 7.12.2015</ref> It was previously classified as Michelia champaca.<ref name=efloras/><ref name=pachort/> It is known for its fragrant flowers, and its timber used in woodworking.


The species epithet, champaca, comes from the Sanskrit word Template:IAST (pronounced Template:IPA).

Vernacular names

Other vernacular names in English include Joy perfume tree,<ref name=pachort>Pacific Horticulture Society: "Striving for Diversity: Fragrant Champaca" . accessed 7.12.2015</ref> yellow jade orchid tree and fragrant Himalayan champaca.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=monrovia />

In the Philippines, it is locally known as tsampaka, sampaka or sampaga.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> The fragrant flowers, together with sampaguita, ylang-ylang and camia, are usually strung into garlands and leis used to adorn statues of saints.


The tree is native to the Indomalaya ecozone, consisting of South Asia, Southeast AsiaIndochina, and southern China.<ref>Template:GRIN</ref>

It is found in Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests ecoregions, at elevations of Template:Convert.<ref name=efloras/> It is native to Maldives, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam.<ref name=efloras/> In China it is native to southern Xizang and southern and southwestern Yunnan Provinces.<ref name=efloras/><ref name=nepal>efloras.org: Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal − Michelia (Magnolia) champaca</ref>


white champak flower

In its native range Magnolia champaca grows to Template:Convert or taller. Its trunk can be up to Template:Convert in diameter. The tree has a narrow umbelliform crown.<ref name=efloras/>

It has strongly fragrant flowers in varying shades of cream to yellow-orange, during June to September.<ref name=efloras/> The obovoid-ellipsoid carpels produce 2−4 seeds during September to October.<ref name=efloras/>

inflorescence of magnolia champaca flower
champak flower parts


Magnolia champaca varieties and hybrids include:

In Thailand, there are other purported hybrids cultivated with other species, including with Magnolia liliifera and Magnolia coco.

Cultural aspects

Orange coloured variety flower at over bloom

In Theravada Buddhism, champaca is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by seventeenth Lord Buddha called "Aththadassi - අත්ථදස්සි". According to Tibetan beliefs, the Buddha of the next era will find enlightenment under the white flower canopy of the champaca tree.<ref name=monrovia>Monrovia Nurseries database: Michelia champaca (Fragrant Himalayan Champaca) . accessed 7.12.2015</ref>



The flowers are used in Southeast Asia for several purposes. Especially in India, they are primarily used for worship at temples whether at home or out, and more generally worn in hair by girls and women as a means of beauty ornament as well as a natural perfume. Flowers are used to be floated in bowls of water to scent the room, as a fragrant decoration for bridal beds, and for garlands.

"Magnolia champaca however is more rare and has a strong perfume, and is not that commonly or plentifully used - for example in hair it is worn singly or as a small corsage but rarely as a whole garland, and for bridal beds it is most often jasmine and roses while for bowls of water to be placed around rooms usually other, more colourful for visual decoration and less strongly perfumed flowers are used."<ref>Minter, S. "Fragrant Plants." in Prance, G. and M. Nesbitt. (2005). The Cultural History of Plants. London: Routledge. 242.This is great</ref>

The tree was traditionally used to make fragrant hair and massage oils. Jean Patou’s famous perfume, 'Joy,' the second best selling perfume in the world after Chanel No. 5, is derived in part from the essential oils of champaca flowers. The vernacular name Joy Perfume Tree comes from this.<ref name=pachort/> Many niche perfumers are now once again using Champaca Absolute as single note fragrances.

The scent similar to the scent of this plant is said to emit by a civet in Sri Lanka, Paradoxurus montanus. Because all the other civets are known to emit very unpleasant odours, this species is renowned to emit pleasant odour similar to this plant's scent.<ref>http://wizzley.com/sri-lankan-brown-palm-civets-paradoxurus-montanus-non-ringtails-of-sri-lanka/</ref>


fruits of champak tree

In its native India and Southeast Asia, champaca is logged for its valuable timber.<ref name=pachort/> It has a finely textured, dark brown and olive-colored wood, which is used in furniture making, construction, and cabinetry.<ref name=pachort/>

The species is protected from logging in some provinces of India, especially in the Southwestern region, where certain groves are considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists.<ref name=pachort/>


Magnolia champaca is cultivated by specialty plant nurseries as an ornamental plant, for its form as an ornamental tree, as a dense screening hedge, and for its fragrant flowers.<ref name=monrovia/> It is planted in the ground in tropical and in subtropical climate gardens, such as in coastal Southern and Central California.<ref name=pachort/><ref name=monrovia/> It is planted in containers in cooler temperate climates.<ref name=pachort/> It requires full sun and regular watering.

The fragrant flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.<ref name=monrovia/> Its aril-covered seeds are highly attractive to birds.<ref>FRISCH, J.D. & FRISCH, C.D. - Aves Brasileiras e Plantas que as atraem, São Paulo, Dalgas Ecotec, 3rd. edition, 2005, Template:ISBN, page 374</ref>

See also



Further reading

  • Fernando, M. Thilina R., et al. "Identifying dormancy class and storage behaviour of champak (Magnolia champaca) seeds, an important tropical timber tree." Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka 41.2 (2013): 141-146.

External links

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