Like a flock of ricebirds, Mucuna birdwoodiana are in full bloom in Guangdong around Qingming Festival (April 4, 2017) every year.
Why do the flowers of Mucuna birdwoodiana look like ricebirds? Why are they blooming around Qingming Festival? To answer these questions, we would like to tell you a legend of Mucuna birdwoodiana.
The legend of Mucuna birdwoodiana
Legend has it that in the Ming Dynasty, Iron Crutch Li, one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology, traveled to Gongkeng Temple in Jiangmen. Passing by a field he saw this scene: a flock of ricebirds were flying around the rice field and eating rice. A farmer, seeing that, intended to drive away the birds by waving a broom, but failed. He was afraid that all the rice might be eaten by the birds but could do nothing, so he burst into tears sadly.
Iron Crutch Li stepped up to defend the farmer. He grasped a string of rattan, used his magic power to tie the ricebirds onto the rattan, then hung it onto a tree branch. He allowed the birds to fly out only around Qingming Festival when the granary is nearly empty but the new crop is not yet ripe, so that they wouldn’t be able to steal rice from farmland. Since then, there was not ricebird stealing rice, but Mucuna birdwoodiana blooming around Qingming Festival.
About Mucuna birdwoodiana
Mucuna birdwoodiana belongs to the genus Mucuna and is a state-protected plant in China. Mucuna is a genus of tropical herbs and woody vines, erect or climbing woody plants, having trifoliate leaves and showy flowers in axillary clusters, widespread in tropics of both hemispheres.
The flowers of Mucuna birdwoodiana can be white or greenish or purplish. In Chinese, Mucuna birdwoodiana is also called ricebird flower or sparrow flower (pin yin: he que hua, Chinese: 禾雀花), because its flowers look very much like ricebirds or sparrows in shape. A fresh-picked flower would turn to brown after two or three hours when it looks even like a sparrow. Its fresh petal oozes red fluid if wounded, looking just like a sparrow bleeding.
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