Cross-post notice

Since it has been 25 days since I posted this on Quora, and all that happened was it was marked as needing editing (and perhaps also as needing to be in English), I chose to cross-post here.


The question text on Quora

On Chinese Wikipedia, “夜来香” is mapped to some 5 different plants (see source). Which of those four is Teresa Teng's song referring to?

The source comment

Wikipedia link: 夜来香 (歌曲) - 维基百科,自由的百科全书

Options therein given for Yelaixiang:

  1. Cestrum nocturnum (aka night-blooming jasmine, the one I suspect the song is referring to);
  2. 葉香木 (what is that?) ;
  3. Polianthes tuberosa;
  4. Telosma cordata;
  5. Oenothera biennis.

The song:https://youtu.be/t_-ljVn6oLI

So what plant is this Yèláixiāng? Is it the night-blooming jasmine (cestrum nocturnum), as I suspect, or one of the other 4? And what is 葉香木?


The Japanese version of the song calls the Yelaixiang:

夜来香白い花 | Yeraishan shiroi hana | Yelaixiang white flower

Of the above, number 4 is a yellow flower, and so is number 5. Baidu gives the following image for number 2:

enter image description here

So number 2 isn't even a flower. That leaves us with number 1 (Cestrum nocturnum aka night-blooming jasmine) and number 3 (Polianthes tuberosa).

  • 1
    Maybe it’s: EUPHEMISM night soil Notes: literally night fragrance, i.e. feces and urine which in former times before the use of flush toilets were collected from house to house at night; figurative; also said as 夜來香 je6 loi4 hoeng1
    – Mou某
    Feb 2, 2018 at 22:27
  • @user3306356 My dear. What a way to ruin the beauty of that song! From a lone flower emitting fragrance to… well… THAT. Ugh.
    – MickG
    Feb 2, 2018 at 22:32
  • You never know(!) it’s an entry from ABC Cantonese for 夜来香.
    – Mou某
    Feb 2, 2018 at 22:33
  • @user3306356 as much as I dislike it, it could be the right translation. But if it's an entry in Cantonese, we don't know whether or not it is used in Mandarin. So we must wait for confirmation. And I hope this song is not talking about that.
    – MickG
    Feb 2, 2018 at 22:43
  • Wiktionary suggests only telosma cordatum (number 4 on my list).
    – MickG
    Feb 2, 2018 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


the book 小山畫譜 has an entry "夜來香":


enter image description here

in the 5 wiki entries, only the centrum nocturnum (夜香木) matched the above description ("花一叢百朶" "色綠微黄" "開亦下垂")

enter image description here

so, i would suggest option 1 (centrum nocturnal) as the answer.

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