Monday, July 11, 2011

Orchid Capital of the Philippines

 Waling-Waling, the Queen of Orchids

Davao City is rightfully called a "City in Bloom" due to the vast plantations and garden resorts that grow rare and exotic orchids and other plants. Among florists, Davao City is specifically known all over the world for its famous Waling-Waling, the Queen of Orchids.

Waling-Waling (vanda sanderana) grows in natural abundance in Davao City particularly at the foot of Mount Apo, the Philippines' Highest Peak. Davao's typhoon-free weather all year round with practically no pronounced wet or dry season, and a uniform distribution of rainfall, temperature, humidity, and air pressure, make it conducive to growing rare exotic orchids and plants. Moreover, the City has more than 1,000 square kilometers of lush tropical forest, or about 47% of its total land area with rich volcanic soil that allows rare plants to thrive and flourish freely. All these qualities contributed to the eventual declaration of Davao City as the official “Orchid Capital of the Philippines”, as declared by then President Corazon Aquino.

Waling-Waling (vanda sanderana) grows in natural abundance in Davao City

Some 800 to 1,000 species of orchids are found in the Philippines

Philippine orchids are usually perched on tree limbs

Waling-Waling is endemic to Mindanao

Philippine orchids come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors, most of which grow only in old-growth forest, often on branches of huge trees several meters above the forest ground. With some 800 to 1,000 species of orchids, the Philippines has one of the richest orchid floras in the world. By contrast, Canada and the United States, including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, have only 325 species among them. Most of the Philippine orchids are perched on tree limbs.

Philippine orchids come in different shapes, sizes and colors

Most Philippine orchids grow in old-growth forest

Most Philippine orchids grow on branches of huge trees
several meters above the forest ground

The Philippines has one of the richest orchid floras in the world

Endemic to Mindanao, Waling-Waling was discovered in 1882. It grows on tree trunks in the rain forests of Davao, Sultan Kudarat, and other parts of Mindanao. It is worshipped as diwata (fairy) by the native Bagobos, an indigenous tribe of Mindanao.

Waling-Waling was discovered in Mindanao in 1882

Widely used in corsages and wedding bouquets

Extensively used by breeders for the production of high quality hybrids

Blooms best in July to October

Blossoms usually last for about six weeks

Waling-Waling is the largest of Philippine orchids; growing to 60 to 120 centimeters, it blooms when it is about 30 centimeters long and bears a few sets of flat, channeled, and re-curved leaves. Flower cluster of 12 to 16 flowers opens in succession, the blossoms usually lasting for about six weeks. Waling-Waling is 7 to 12 centimeters wide, and has a characteristic two-tone look - a pale purple blotched with dark reddish-purple at the tip to the lower sepals that are greenish with a pattern of netted lines and purple-crimson spots. And because of its unique beauty and elegance, the Waling-Waling is widely used in corsages and wedding bouquets, and has been extensively used by orchid growers for the breeding and production of high quality orchid hybrids. Other top-quality orchid species that are found in the country are the 'white orchid' (Phalaenopsis amabilis) which is known for its large full flowers, and the 'flame orchid' (Renanthera storiei) which is widely used in the development of orchid cutflower varieties.

Waling-Waling blooms best in the months of July to October.

White Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)

Flame Orchid (Renanthera storiei)