The magic of the Philippines blooms in its native flowers. From the seemingly endless species of orchids to the ubiquitous sampaguita, the Philippine Islands boast a native botanical population that thrives in the tropics and has become a lucrative industry for botanical export.
Nearly 1,000 species of orchids grow in the Philippines, making it one of the world’s largest natural orchid habitats. Referred to as one of the Field Museum website’s "Vanishing Treasures," the waling-waling orchid (Euanthe sanderiana) is among the most prized orchids of the Philippines. The waling-waling is found only in Mindanao, growing on large, high, tree branches. Its coloring is deep-purple to red with flecks of bright red on the outer edges of the center. The waling-waling blossom is large, nearly 6 inches wide, making it a popular choice for corsages and centerpieces.
The Lipstick Plant
Air plants commonly grow on palm trees and tropical climate trees found in the United States, but the lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus lobbianus) in the Philippines is an air plant like no other. Its flashy tube-like flowers are bright red, set against a backdrop of bright green leaves wound loosely around tree trunks. The lipstick plant can also be grown in the United States in a partial sun and shade atmosphere.
The Philippine Islands are also home to the largest flower in the world, the rafflesia flower (Rafflesia Arnoldii). Characterized by a distinctly unpleasant order of decomposing flesh, the rafflesia is also known as the "corpse flower." In a report for Simply Green, Dr. Chua Eu Klam accurately describes the rafflesia as having a blossom as big around as a car tire. Classified as a parasitic flower, rafflesia has no stem, foliage, or root and grows from the forest floor.
Resembling the Confederate jasmine vine commonly found in the United States, the sampaguita (Jasminium sambac) is the national flower of the Philippines. Small star-like flowers blossom in clusters amid waxy, green leaves. Sampaguita has a sweet, thick scent and is widely used for Asian tea blends. The sampaguita symbolizes divine hope and is often used as a garland for social celebrations.
Cut flowers, including gladioli, asters, sampaguita, carnations and roses, are big business in the Philippines. According to a report from the FAO Corporate Document Repository, 46 percent of the Philippines' exported flowers go to Korea. Gladioli tops the list of the most widely exported flowers of the country.
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