The Nareepol Tree / Narilatha Flower

Nareepol Tree has flowers shaped like women
Photo purports to show a "Nareepol Tree" or "Narilatha Flower" shaped like a woman. (Viral image)

Among the myriad interesting "facts" one learns browsing Facebook is that there exists a plant in Asia which blooms only once every 20 years, supposedly, and whose flower is shaped precisely like the nude torso of a woman (see photo).

Some say it grows in Thailand and is called the "Nareepol tree." Others say it's native to the Himalayas, where it's called a "Narilatha flower" (alternative spelling: "Naarilatha flower").

In Sri Lanka, they supposedly call it a "Liyathambara Mala."

But what's in a name? The point is, 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.


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're among very few such photographs known to exist. for one thing. Surely, if the "lady flowers" depicted in them were real, we would have more and better documentation than this.

Instead, we find the same photos 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."

Lastly, I mean, come on — do these "flowers" look real to you? For my money, they were either fabricated and hung from tree branches to be photographed or Photoshopped.

Mind you, there does seem to be some actual basis in Buddhist mythology for the concept of flowers that resemble naked women. Supposedly 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. Remarkably — or maybe not, this being folklore — it worked.

Sources and further reading:

Nareepol Tree Fruit Maidens
Sacred Siam

The Amazing Makkaliporn of Wat Prangmuni
Wayne's Dhamma Blog, 10 May 2009

Nareepol Tree, 1 April 2008

Nareepol Tree: Real or Fake?, 15 July 2015