The Nareepol Tree / Narilatha Flower

Nareepol Tree has flowers shaped like women
(Viral image)

Among the myriad interesting "facts" one learns browsing Facebook is that there exists a plant native to Asia which blooms only once every 20 years and whose flower is purportedly shaped precisely like the nude torso of a woman.

Some say it grows in Thailand and is called the Nareepol tree. Others say it is native to the Himalayas, where its name is the Narilatha flower (sometimes spelled "Naarilatha"). In Sri Lanka,  it is called Liyathambara Mala.

So completely alluring are the "lady-shaped blossoms" of this tree or plant, supposedly, that the blissful trances of hermits and sages have been known to be "shattered" at the sight of them.

We are skeptical.

Example #1:

Fw: Believe it or Not - Pokok berbuahkan perempuan - Harun

This is amazing tree named 'Nareepol' in Thai. Naree means 'girl/woman' and pol means plant/tree or 'buah' in Malay. It means women tree. It is amazing what God create the World in many forms that amused human beings.... You can see the real tree at Petchaboon province about almost 500 kms away from Bangkok.

Example #2:

It is called the Narilatha flower, which when translated in Hindi means flower in the shape of a lady. It is also called the Liyathambara Mala in local Sri Lankan dialect. The tree is also said to be found in Thailand where it is allegedly called 'Nareepol.'

The Narilatha flowering plant is said to grow in the hilly slopes of Himalayas in India and is understood to bloom once in two decades only; in other words it blossoms into a lady like flower after a 20-year interval. It is believed that in times of yore the concentration of hermits and sages doing deep meditation would be shattered at the sight of these lady-shaped flowers.

The Narilatha or Liyathambara flowers said to be in the shape of a women are considered one of the most wonderful and rarest of flowers in the world.

Analysis

The image above is one of a set that has been floating around the internet for many years. Strong arguments have already been made against the authenticity of these images.

They are among very few such photographs known to exist. If a species of plant produced the "lady flowers" depicted in these photos, we would surely have more varied and better quality documentation than what is currently available. Instead, the same photos are recirculated again and again.

Secondly, an analysis on Google Trends shows that prior to April 2008, which is when these images first began circulating on the Internet, there were zero user inquiries pertaining to the phrase "Nareepol tree."

Finally, we must ask ourselves: do these "flowers" look real? In this author's humble opinion, the figures were fabricated and hung from tree branches to be photographed or were Photoshopped into an existing tree photo.

There may be some actual basis in Buddhist mythology for the concept of flowers that resemble naked women. As the story goes, the god Indra was afraid his wife would be attacked by lustful hermits, so he created a grove of magical trees bearing beautiful "fruit maidens," known in these sources as "Nareephon," "Nariphon" or  "Makkaliporn," to distract them. Lucky for Indra, this strategy worked.