The Filipino culture is rich in customs and traditions including annual celebrations of the "panagbenga," or season of blooming. Panagbenga honors the favorite flowers of Filipinos as well as other beautiful flowers indigenous to tropical Asia. Flowers play an important role in Filipino society. Some flowers are a revenue source for local cultivators and garland makers. Other flowers connect the culture to legends from older generations. Hospitality reigns supreme in this island nation and flowers are also symbolic of the warm and welcoming Filipino culture.
The fragrance of ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) blossoms makes the flower a Filipino favorite. In Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, ylang-ylang means "flower of flowers." This early-blooming, fast-growing evergreen reaches up to 80-feet tall. Cananga ordorata thrives in hot, tropical climates and produces aromatic yellow flowers. Flowers are starfish-shaped and have six slender, green to yellow, 2-inch-long petals. The oil from ylang-ylang blossoms is also popular in the global aromatherapy and perfumery industries. Ylang-ylang blossoms are also a favorite flower Filipinos use to make garlands and drive away malicious spirits.
Sampaguita (Jasmine sambac) is the official national floral emblem of the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino culture's most popular and beloved flower. Jasmine sambac produces clusters of delicate, highly fragrant, showy, white to pink blossoms. Native to tropical Asia, sampaguita thrives in hot climates, enjoys full sun and flowers almost constantly in tropical weather. Filipinos grow this member of the olive (Oleaceae) family of plants for its showy blossoms, which are also a favorite flower Filipinos string into leis, corsages and crowns. Sampaguita garlands are used for religious offerings and welcome gifts.
Many orchid varieties grow in the Philippines. Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana) is the rarest and most beautiful orchid cultivar in the Philippines, making it a favorite flower of Filipinos. This native Filipino orchid flowers from July to October and produces large, showy, 4- to 6-inch blossoms in vibrant colors including violet, lilac and chocolate. The "Queen of Philippine Orchids" is a sun worshiper and prefers high humidity and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Vanda sanderiana requires daily watering and prefers rain or distilled water. The Philippine Orchids Society adopted waling-waling as its official logo and schedules its annual orchid exhibition to coincide with Vanda sanderiana's flowering.
Dama de Noche
Cestrum nocturnum, commonly known as dama de noche in the Philippines, is a fragrant, night-blooming favorite Filipino flower. The "lady of the night" is a fast-growing, sprawling shrub with vibrant, glossy, dark-green, oblong-ovate leaves and small, 1-inch-long yellowish-green to white blossoms. The Hawaii Plants and Tropical Flowers website describes dama de noche as powerfully fragrant. Despite the plant's aromatic qualities, all parts of Cestrum nocturnum are poisonous to humans and other animals.