National Flower Series – South East Asia 8- Vietnam

National Flower Series – Socialists Republic of Vietnam (Nelumbo Nucifera)
Pink Nelumbo nucifera or lotus (莲花、荷花,古称芙蓉) is the national flower Socialists Republic of Vietnam. It should be noted that though Sri Lanka and India also declared lotus as the national flowers, but Vietnam specifically choses pink lotus as its national flower.

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, or simply lotus, is one of two species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lake bed in northeastern China. A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a water lily (Nymphaea) or 睡蓮 is an entirely different plant, as can be seen in the center of the flowers, which lack the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera.

The Vietnamese Government disclosed that lotus was chosen as the national flower of Vietnam because it has origin from Vietnam and has been grown in most parts of the country for a long time to embody both cultural identity and national spirit. Lotus also has a pleasant fragrance and made appearance in many traditional literatures, cultural and architectural works of Vietnam. In Vietnam, lotus represents the noble mind and pure spirit of Vietnamese and is the best symbol to characterize Vietnam. Vietnam Airlines, the national airline has adopted lotus as its airline symbol.

As lotuses live near the mud but they still have a dainty beautiful flower coupled with a pleasant smell, as such, some people thinks that this best describe theVietnamese people – though faced with many hardship, Vietnamese people still maintain their purities and beauties inside their souls. Note: In Chinese literature, lotuses were also being appreciated for its ability to produce beautiful flowers in a less than desirable living environment. (周敦颐的《爱莲说》写到“予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染,濯清涟而不妖,中通外直,不蔓不枝;香远益清,亭亭净植;可远观而不可亵玩焉”)

Source: adapted from www.en.Wikipedia.org, www.vietnamonline.com

National Flower Series – South East Asia 4- Brunei Darussalam

National Flower Series – Brunei Darussalam – Dillenia or Simpoh

Dillenia or commonly known as Simpoh or Simpor orSimpur is a genus of 100 species of flowering plants in the family Dilleniaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia, Australasia, and the Indian Ocean islands. The genus is named after the German botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius, and consists of evergreen or semi-evergreen trees and shrubs.
It is widespread in Brunei and can grow in various habitats including white sands where other species can not live. Dr.s Idris M. of Brunei Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources once said: “the unique blossoming of the flower and the green color of its leaves symbolizes the development” of the country’s “economy investment (from fruit) towards better economic growth (to flower).” The plants blends well with the daily lives of the people, its large leaves are used to wrap food such as tempeh (fermented soya bean cakes),nasi lemak and tapai (fermented rice) or rolled into shallow cones to contain traditional ‘fast food’ such as rojak. The plants have very deep roots to tap the underground resources hence people used that as a guide to locate dig a well. In addition, the mature or old leaves of some species contain silica deposit can can be used as a substitute for sandpaper. Its values extends to its medicinal value whereby young shoots were used to staunch bleeding wounds and fruit pulps were used to wash the hair. Source: adapted from Science 2011edu.blogspot.sg

National Flower Series – South East Asia 1 – Singapore

National flower series -Singapore – Vanda Ms. Joaquim (Chinese: 卓锦万黛兰; pinyin: zhuójǐn wàndàilán), also known as the Singapore Orchid and the Princess Aloha Orchid is a hybrid orchid cultivar that is Singapore’s national flower

Agnes Joaquim bred this orchid which carries her name. It was recognised as a hybrid not only by orchid expert Henry Ridley in 1893 and again in 1896, but by other contemporary orchid growers as well as orchid journals including the Orchid Review. Sander’s Complete List of Orchid Hybrids, which distinguished between natural and artificial hybrids, listed Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’ as an artificial hybrid.Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’ is a cross between the Burmese Vanda teres and the MalayanVanda hookeriana. It is not known which of the two species produced the seeds and which one provided the pollen. The hybrid was shown to Henry Ridley, the director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Ridley examined it, had it sketched and sent a description to the Gardeners’ Chronicle writing that: ‘A few years ago Miss Joaquim, a lady residing in Singapore, well known for her success as a horticulturist, succeeded in crossing Vanda hookeriana Rchb. f., and V. teres, two plants cultivated in almost every garden in Singapore。 (sourced from Wikipedia)

National Flower Series – South East Asia 3- Indonesia

National Flower – Indonesia There are three categories of floral emblem that symbolize Indonesia; puspa bangsa (national flower) of Indonesia is Melati (Jasminum sambac), puspa pesona (flower of charm) is Anggrek Bulan (Moon Orchid) (Phalaenopsis amabilis) and puspa langka (rare flower) is Padma Raksasa Rafflesia (Rafflesia arnoldii). All three were chosen on World Environment Day in 1990 and enforced by law through Presidential Decree (Keputusan Presiden) No. 4 1993. On the other occasion Bunga Bangkai (Titan arum) was also added as puspa langka together with Rafflesia.

Melati (jasminum sambac), a small white flower with sweet fragrance, has long been considered as a sacred flower in Indonesian tradition, as it symbolizes purity, sacredness, graceful simplicity and sincerity. For example, on her wedding day, a traditional Indonesian bride’s hair is often adorned with arrangements of jasmine, while the groom’s kris is often adorned with a lock of jasmine. However, jasmine is also often used as floral offering for spirits and deities, and also often present during funerals which gave it its mystical and sacred properties.
Moon Orchid was chosen for its beauty, while the other two rare flowers,
Rafflesia arnoldii and Titan arum were chosen to demonstrate uniqueness and Indonesian rich biodiversity.
Source: wikipedia

National Flower Series – South East Asia 5- Philippines

National Flower Series – The Phillipines – Sampaguita or Jasminum Sambac

Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) is a sweetly scented tropical flower belonging to the wide genus of Jasmines (Jasminum) and have other names known as Philippine Jasmine, Arabian jasmine, Pikake in Hawaii, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Kampupot, and Melati in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sampaguitas were first introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century from Himalayan areas and become part of the the Philippines landscape for centuries. About eight species are generally listed for Sampaguita. Some varieties of Sampaguitas can grow as large as small roses.

Native to Southern Asia, Jasminum Sambac is the national flower of the Philippines and coincidentally one of the three national flowers of Indonesia. Its flower is widely used by Asian communities in tea and religious offerings. Kings and emperors of ancient Chinese, Afghanistan, Nepalese and Persian Kingdom were known to have Jasmines planted in the palace compounds to enjoy its heavenly fragrance. In addition, the flowers were used for making perfumes, hair ornaments, teas. The shrubs roots were used to treat wounds and snake bites by the traditional medicine practitioners. Source : www.theflowerexpert.com

National Flower Series – South East Asia 6- Myanmar

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National Flower Series – Myanmar or formally known as Burma

It is known that there are two national floral identities for Myanmar. One is Thazin and the other is the Paduak.

Thazin (Bulbophyllum auricomum)

In Burma, the the most beloved orchid of Myanmar is Thazin, (Bulbophyllum auricomum) which blooms with tiny white flowers in graceful sprays that grow out of a small, bright-green, pear shaped bulb. It symbolizes royalties and purities.

Found in Thailand, Burma, Sumatra and Java in lowland seasonal forests as a miniature to small sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with 3.8 to 3/4″ spaced, ovoid-oblong pseudobulbs carrying 2 to 3, apical, deciduous, rather thin leaves that are often not present at blooming which is on an arching, basal, to 8 3/4″ [22 cm] long, racemose, many [25] flowered inflorescence occuring in the late fall and early winter and has fragrant flowers

This rare, dainty and almost extinct species of orchid is beloved for its simple yet delicate beauty and its remote habitat high up in mountain trees. The likability of the orchid can be seen in the Burmese cultures via songs and the literatures.   

At some point of time, they were so rare that no commoner however wealthy was allowed to wear it in the hair. It was only meant for queens and princesses and special envoys had to go deep into the jungles in Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges to collect some of these orchids for ceremonial purposes. Nowadays, people grow it easily with bulbs collected from the jungles but even then, it is still an expensive flower that brides drape around their high chignons. 

Padauk (Pterocarpus Indicus)

The Padauk (Pterocarpus Indicus) blossoms in tiny fragrant yellow-gold flowers after the first showers in April, coinciding with the Myanmar New Year festival. and the Water Festival (Thingyan). Once in bloom, the entire tree turns gold overnight. 

Due to the large concentration of yellowish flowers in the trees during the blossoming period, Padauk is often confused with Thailand’s National Flower, Cassia Fistula or Golden Shower Trees. Though both trees belong to the Fabaceae family nut Padauk belongs to the Pterocarpus Genus whereas Thailands Golden Shower Trees belong  to the Cassia Genus.

The Myanmar people regard the Paduak tree as the symbol of strength and durability. It was also being featured in the love sonnets fo a 16th century poet king and attached the elements of youth, love and romance to the flowers. The flower plays an indispensable part in traditional and religious ceremonies. The Paduak can be found throughout the country. The wood of the tree is also used for making furniture.

The flowers were worn as beautiful adornments during important racial festivities.

Source : adopted from www.mianmarburma.com and http://www.sanooaung.wordpress.com

National Flower Series – South East Asia 7- Cambodia

National Flower Series – Kingdom of Cambodia (Mistrella Mesnyi or Rumdul)

Rumdul (银帽花、隆都花) or mitrella mesnyi is a species of flowering plant in the soursop family, Annonaceae. In a 2005 royal decree by King Sihamoni of Cambodia, the rumdul or romduol as it is known in Cambodian, was proclaimed the national flower of Cambodia.

This plant has a yellowish-white flower with a single alternate leaf. It has a height of 8–12 m and a stem diameter of 20–30 cm. It gives out an attractive smell in the late afternoon and evening, a distinctive fragrance that can be smelled from a long distance. The rumdul plant also bears edible fruitsgrowing in clusters that will turn dark red when ripe.

Rumdul can grows in wild and seen almost everywhere in Cambodia. Cambodian people like to grow it for decoration of houses and public parks. Due to fragrant smell of Rumdul flower, in ancient Khmer people like to use it for material to produce lip waxes for women. Stem of Rumdul can also be used for supplement construction materials and firewood. In the season of maturing of Rumdul fruit, people who live close to the forest is always collecting the Rumdul fruits to sell for living. Due to the attraction of fragrant smell, therefore, Khmer women have been compared to the Rumdul flower, and also some Khmer’s author has written some song such as Rumdul Kraties and Rumdul Pursat, etc.

It is not an eye catching trees. They are grown by the road sides and many foreigners do not even notice it is the national flower of Cambodia.

Source:
http://chanthol.wordpress.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitrella_mesnyi
http://blog.sina.com

National Flower Series – South East Asia 10- Laos

National Flower Series – Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Plumeria Rubra or Dok Champa)

Dok Champa, also known as frangipani or plumeria rubra or 缅栀花(鸡蛋花), is the national flower of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (“Laos”). The trees are considered sacred and planted throughout the country, everywhere from the Southern Province “Champasack” to Northern Province “Phongsaly” especially in the monastic areas. The waxy flower, with a sweet scent, release at night, can be found in many colors: red, yellow, pink and multiple pastels but the national symbol is the white Dok Champa with the yellow center.

In Laos, Champa symbolizes joy in life and sincerity. It is often used as a decoration in ceremonies or made into a garland for welcoming guests. The flowers were also mixed with water and poured over Buddha statues during Lao New Year (Pi Mai). They are used as a garnish of food and drink and don’t be surprise if you found deep fried frangipani in your dishes which was added to impart a subtle aroma.

General information
The fabulous frangipani, Plumeria rubra is a deciduous plant species belong to the genus Plumeria originated from Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela. It has a stunning flower and were grown in the tropics and subtropics as garden and park ornamental plants. It’s well known for its beautiful and fragrant flowers, the colours of which can vary enormously from white with a yellow centre, through shades of apricot and right through to pink and even dark red.

Frangipanis are always equated with historic, old hat and can commonly found in old ancient historic monastic areas in countries such as Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. In countries like Malaysia and Singapore, it is not difficult to find such plants in the courtyards of the historic residential properties where such plants were planted in abundant due to their easy maintenance and beautiful flowers. However, in some South and South East Asian cultures, the plants were associated with death, vampires, shelters for demons and ghosts etc where such they were planted in the cemetery and used in funerals.

Additional note:
Propagating frangipani is simple by taking a piece of hardwood about 300 millimeters long. Leave the cutting in the sun for a couple of weeks to dry out and then put into some potting mix. Within a few weeks it will have formed roots.

National Flower Series – Oceania 1- Papua New Guinea

National Flower Series – Papua New Guinea (Dendrobium Lasianthera or Sepik Blue – unofficial)

As at to date, Papua New Guinea (“PNG”) do not have any official national flower.
However, Dendrobium lasianthera or Sepik Blue orchid were unofficially deemed to be the national flower. The flower is unique to the Yimas Lakes region of the East Sepik Province , Papua New Guinea and have another beautiful name : “Lady Veronica Somare”,(nicknamed after PNG’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare’s wife). It is highly regarded throughout the world because of its purity of color and form.
A large sized, hot growing epiphyte from damp, humid river and streams in lowland forests of Papua and New Guinea below 100 meters in elevation with terete, erect stems carrying leaves throughout the length and have elliptic, coriaceous, emarginate, alternate leaves. The bloom season is from spring through autumn on an axillary, medium length to 1 to 2’ [30 to 60 cm], several to many [10 to 30] flowered raceme with showy flowers that arises from the nodes near the apex of mature leafy canes with water and fertilizer applied evenly year round. (Source: www.orchidspecies.com)

In Andree Millars book ‘Orchids Of Papua New Guinea-an introduction’, the charming characteristics of the orchids can be visualized via the following quotes: “The trees are small, averaging 3 to 4m high, and it is something to remember all of your life-acres of swamp and the beautiful ‘Sepik Blue’ or ‘May River Reds’ in their hundreds standing above the tree tops.” (source: www.orchidsonline.com)

National Flower Series – South East Asia 2- Malaysia

National flower series – Malaysia – Hibiscus rosa-sinesis

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia, called Bunga Raya in Malay. Introduced into the Malay Peninsula in the 12th century, it was nominated as the national flower in the year 1958 by the Ministry of Agriculture amongst a few other flowers, namely ylang ylang, jasmine, lotus,rose, magnolia, and bunga tanjung. On 28 July 1960, it was declared by the government of Malaysia that the hibiscus would be the national flower.

The word bunga in Malay means “flower”, whilst raya in Malay means “big” or “grand”. The hibiscus is literally known as the “big flower” in Malay.

The red of the petals symbolizes the courage, life, and rapid growth of the Malaysian, and the five petals represent the five Rukun Negara of Malaysia.

The flower can be found imprinted on the notes and coins of the Malaysian ringgit.