Our #NationalFlower Vanda Miss Joaquim
Vanda Miss Joaquim was presented as Singapore’s National Flower 42 years ago today, on 15 April 1981. The Agnes variety of Vanda Miss Joaquim stood out from 40 shortlisted flowers, and was chosen for its vibrant colours, hardiness, and resilience – qualities that reflect the Singapore spirit. Singapore is the only country in the world to have a hybrid flower as a national symbol.
“As the flower most associated with hybrids, the orchid is also a symbol of our multicultural heritage. It is representative of the harmony among our ethnic communities, as well as with our many foreign visitors.”, said Mr Mah Bow Tan, the then-Minister for National Development, at the Singapore Orchid Show, 2006.
The Vanda Miss Joaquim was first recorded in 1893 in a horticultural journal as a newly created cross between the Burmese ‘Vanda teres’ (♀) (now called ‘Papilionanthe teres’) and the Malayan ‘Vanda hookeriana’ (♂) (now called ‘Papilionanthe hookeriana’). It was bred by Agnes Joaquim and achieved international prominence when it won the First Class Certificate at the London Royal Horticultural Show in 1897 and first prize at the 1899 Flower Show in Singapore.
More than 440 hybrids have since been cultivated from the first hybrid, which blooms all year and thrives best in high humidity and sunlight. The flowers can be turned into garlands, bouquets, corsages, and gold-plated jewellery. The fragrance was extracted for the signature scent of Singapore Airlines — the Singapore Bliss perfume in 1988.
As our #nationalflower, Vanda Miss Joaquim appears on our currency notes and coins, such as the notes of the Ship series and the five-dollar bill in the Portrait series, and in some of our stamp series. The name graces some of our places, including Vanda Miss Joaquim Park in Tanjong Pagar, Vanda Road, Vanda Crescent, and Vanda Drive in Bukit Timah.