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 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 – 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)