Rare Buddhist Flower Discovered Under Nun’s Washing Machine

Posted on March 19, 2010

According to Buddhist legend, the Udumbara flower, also known as Youtan Poluo, blooms once every 3,000 years. Its name in Sanskrit translates to an auspicious flower from heaven. Such a cluster of tiny, white flowers was found in the home of a Chinese nun, in of all places, under her washing machine!

This unique bloom measures just one millimeter in diameter. When Miao Wei, aged 50, was cleaning her home, she first believed the tiny stems were worm eggs, as the pattern the eggs form is similar to that of a flower, and the shape is used for divination in Asian fortune telling.

Within the span of barely a day, however, the stems had blossomed into 18 fragrant flowers.

Steeped in legend, the Udumbara tree is known as a “strangling fig” because it grows parasitically on the branches of a host tree. The flowers from the tree are encased within the fruit and hidden from view, which is generally the case with all figs.

Because of its clandestine nature, a Buddhist legend evolved around the flower, relegating its appearance to every 3000 years and explaining the lack of a visual flower by declaring it a symbol of rare events.

Allusions to this symbolism can be found in Buddhist texts such as Theravada and the Lotus Sutra. Some claim the appearance of the Udumbara flower signals the imminent birth of a king.

The sudden appearance of these rare flowers is the stuff of legends. Consider the story of the Youtan Polu blooming on steel in a Chinese vegetable garden.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words as the old saying goes, ultimately it is personal belief that keeps this legend alive.

Is it based on truth?

Who’s to say?

No one from 3,000 years ago is around today to verify when the flower last bloomed but then again, does that really matter?

What do YOU think about this?




M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry (http://www.ingestandimbibe.com) feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.
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13 thoughts on “Rare Buddhist Flower Discovered Under Nun’s Washing Machine

  1. gnaru

    Yeah, drasaid. Those are Lacewing moth eggs. It has been known that these are moth eggs in China and Japan since ancient times. Forturne tellers would even use their shape to tell the future. Only followers of Falun Dafa think these are flowers.

  2. gnaru

    eric, the flowers of the ficus racemosa tree are enclosed in the fruit. To explain the lack of a visible flower, a legend arouse that this tree only flowers every 3,000 years. The ficus racemos is a woody tree, not some little flower that grows on steel pipes or under washing machines. The ficus racemos is NOT a parasitic tree, it is a fig tree, and it is the tree the Buddha was sitting under when he obtained elightenment. In Japan, the name for Lacewing moth eggs shares the same name as that of the Buddhist legend because the pattern of these moth eggs resemble A FLOWER, not the Udumbara flower…which is hidden inside fig.

  3. weewah

    I've seen mold that resembled that. And it's growing under a washing machine… on cold damp metal, not soil. Could be mold.

  4. Lee

    what flower? i have seen this many time on my chilli plants. i
    have always thought it must have been some type of insect


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