Category Archives: Flowers

#138 Waling-Waling

With around 800 to 1,000 species of orchids, the Philippines is home to a wide and varied range orchids, but the rarest and most beautiful  is Waling-Waling (Vanda sanderiana).

Waling-Waling is considered so rare today that it is presumed to be nearing its extinction. Waling-Waling is described as the ‘Queen of Philippine Orchids,’ and is one of the largest orchid species in the world.

Waling-waling was discovered by German taxonomist Heinrich Gustav Reicheinback in Mindanao in 1882. The discovery of Waling-Waling has prompted the cultivation of colorful and attractive vandaceous hybrids that are now part of the world’s multibillion-dollar orchid and cutflower industry.

Waling-Waling grows on tree trunks in the rainforests of Davao, Sultan Kudarat and other parts of Mindanao. It blooms only once a year, between July and October and wanton plunder of this prized specimen has brought it to near extinction.

The massive deforestation in Mindanao also threatens the region’s wildlife, including Waling-Waling which used to abound in the tropical forest of Mount Apo. Today, it is believed that Waling-Waling has more species cultivated abroad, particularly in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Hawaii.

Mabuhay ang Waling Waling!

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#45 Puso ng Saging

Puso ng Saging (literally ‘heart of the banana”) or banana blossoms is a favorite ingredient in various Philippine meat and vegetarian dishes. Shaped like a human heart (yes, just in  time for Valentines!), the banana blossoms are protected by sheaths of red colored leaf-like petals that form the heart- shaped “puso.”

The edible blooms are plucked when still immature and the young shoots or unopened blossoms are picked off for cooking. Boiled in water and salt, the shoots can be later fried or added to a range of meat stews. Or the flowers can also be thinly coated in a mix of flour and beaten eggs and deep-fried. Shredding the tender outer blooms and cooking them in coconut milk or combining them with other vegetables and meat also make a tasty dish. Variations are endless, and only one’s culinary imagination can limit this very versatile ”flowery” vegetable.

Besides you can impress friends and foe alike by saying you eat flowers for dinner.

Mabuhay ang puso ng saging!

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#34 Sampaguita

Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac)– the flower not the Philippine rock singer–  is a sweet-scented tropical flower belonging to the wide genus of Jasmines (Jasminum). Sampaguita is also known as the Philippine Jasmine, Arabian jasmine or Pikake in Hawaii.

The sampaguita is originally from India and could have been  imported into the Philippines in the 17th century from the Himalayan areas.

Adopted in 1934 as the national flower of the Philippines, the flower is widely used in the country in official and various social and religious occasions such as weddings, birthdays, school graduations, funerals and other ceremonies. Street vendors sell it to motorists and jeepney drivers used to hang sampaguita garlands on their windshields.

Mabuhay ang sampaguita!

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