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Fortune flowers for lunar new year

Fortune flowers for lunar new year

Shrubs in bloom command a higher price. PHOTOS BY ROTH MEAS

Hout Sayeang travels to Phnom Penh each year to sell trees for Chinese New Year.

Shrubs in bloom command a higher price. PHOTOS BY ROTH MEAS

AS Chinese New Year approaches, plant sellers are gearing up for a rush as people flock to buy yellow-flowering shrubs called angkea sel.

The blooms are said to predict the year’s fortune ahead, according to flower seller Hout Sayeang, 56, from Char village in Kampong Chhnang province.

Every year since 1994, she has been bringing the trees from her village to sell near the Japanese Friendship Bridge in Phnom Penh.

“Customers like to choose trees which are about to blossom but this year the festival is earlier than usual, so it’s been hard to get them to bloom,” she says.

If the trees blossom during the first three days of the new year, the year will bring good fortune, she claims.

So she and her family have diligently spraying the trees several times a day with water to get them to flower early.

Her trees are brought from Koh Krolor district in Battambang province 10 days before the Chinese New Year. Hout Sayeang says people there cut trees to sell to her.

It takes her two days to transport the trees to Phnom Penh by truck, and she sells them for between US$15 and $20 each.

About 20 tree sellers congregate near the bridge each year. Khatt Khea, 29, a farmer from Prek Khmom village, Kampot district, says that he has come down to the city every Chinese New Year for 17 years to sell his trees, which this year came from Battambang province.

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