February 20, 2009

Becoming a Pseudo-Horticulturist

Nana informed me that one of my mom's orchids decided that it was time to show its true purpose for this world. It bloomed profusely with multiple buds clustering on its spikes.

As the photo will tell you, it's a Waling Waling. Scientifically known as Vanda Sanderiana, Waling-walings are endemic to the Philippines specifically Mindanao. Today, this "Queen of Orchids" is being cultivated by countries outside its native soil especially Thailand and US (Hawaii). Because it's already an endangered species thanks to deforestation by illegal loggers posing as decent political families, there have been efforts to mass cultivate this most beautiful orchid.

Vanda sanderiana Rchb.f.

Synonym: Euanthe sanderiana (Reichenbach.f) Schlechter
Esmeralda sanderiana Reichb.f.

Vanda sanderiana, commonly called “Waling-waling” , is one of the most beautiful and popular orchid species from the Philippines. It is a strap-leaf species that contributes vigor, large size, enhanced color intensity, round-shape, and flatness of flowers to virtually all Vanda hybrids. This Philippine species is extensively used as a parent in Vanda hybridization works.

Prof. Heinrich G. Reichenbach originally named this species Vanda sanderiana in 1882 in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, in honor of Henry F. Sander, a famous nurseryman and patron of orchids, of St. Albans, England. Dr. Rudolf Schlechter created the generic name, Euanthe in Die Orchideen in 1914 and transferred Vanda sanderiana to this new genus. Difference in the labellum, most particularly the absence of a spur, separates the Euanthe from the Vanda.

Vanda sanderiana is an upright, monopodial orchid, about 1 meter tall. Its leaves arch gracefully up to 40 cm long by 3 cm wide, with its tips unequally notched, as if chewed by an insect. The inflorescences are upright, and carry up to 10 flowers, each 10 cm in diameter. The dorsal sepal and petals are pale pink with some dark spotting toward the center, the lateral sepals greenish brown with darker brown tassellations; and the labellum are purplish brown. The dorsal and lateral sepals are broadly elliptic, measuring up to 4 cm long by 2.5 cm wide. The petals are also broadly elliptic, up to 3.5 cm long by 2 cm wide. The labellum or lip is three-lobed, about 2.5 cm long by 1.75 cm wide, with wide rounded and upright side lobes, and an upright, oblong to circular mid-lobe. The midlobe has three ridges and the labellum phenotypically has no spur, a distinguishing mark which separates Euanthe from Vanda, and also identifies a true Vanda sanderiana species from that of a hybrid.

Vanda sanderiana is endemic to Mindanao Island of the Philippines, where it is particularly found in North and South Cotobato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur. It grows as an epiphyte attached to dipterocarp forest trees at elevations of 500 meters.

It was noted by Jim Cootes (1991) in his book that “The orchid world is fortunate for the dedication of growers in Hawaii and Thailand who have done wonderful work in propagating both the albino and normal-colored forms of this glorious species. Vastly superior forms are now readily available to any orchid grower who can provide the cool minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius that his species require.” The plant is also being mass produced in orchid nurseries and laboratories in Mindanao since the plant is threatened and needs to be conserved. The plant is in the endangered list.

Because of its beauty, Vanda sanderiana, is described as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids” and was adopted by the Philippine Orchid Society as its logo. The species blooms in the Philippines from July to October, usually after experiencing 3 or more weeks of continuous heavy downpour during the country’s monsoon rain period. With this characteristic, the Philippine Orchid Society celebrates its yearly midyear orchid show every August to coincide with the blooming of this majestic orchid.

This species has 3 varieties, namely:

1. Vanda sanderiana var. albata Reichb. f. in Gard. Chron. ser. 3.2 (1887) 9. Esmeralda Sanderiana var. albata Will.

This plant was described by Prof. Heinrich G. Reichenbach in the Gardeners’ Chronicle in 1887. The growth habit and flower size are just a little smaller than those of the species. The lateral sepals are yellowish-green with white margins, while the dorsal sepal and petals are white with purple spots at base. The labellum or lip has purple dots.

The plant was reported from Davao del Sur and South Cotobato on Mindanao Island where it grows as an epiphyte at elevations to 500 meters. This variety is extremely rare in its natural habitat.

2. Vanda sanderiana var. froebeliana cogn. in Dict. Icon. des. Orch.Vanda t. 12 a (1903).

The plant has bright rose flower stalks; and has very large flowers compared to the species. The lateral sepals are bright yellow, with rose coloration towards the margins, and densely covered with large purple reticulated veins. The dorsal sepal and petals are rose pink color on the upper half, while lower half with brownish-purple spots.

3. Vanda sanderiana var. labello-viridi Linden & Rodigas in Lindenia 1:85, t (1885) 40.
Esmeralda sanderiana var. labello-viridi Will.

The plant is similar to the species except the lip or labellum is green with crimpson stripes.


Cootes, Jim. 2001. The Orchids of the Philippines. Singapore: Times Edition. ISBN 981 232 100 4 .

Fessel H.H. and Peter Belzer. 1999. A Selection of Native Philippine Orchids. Times Editions. Singapore.

Golamco, Andres S. 1991. Philippines’ Book on Orchids. Jemma Inc. Publishing Group, Cainta, Rizal, Philippines.

Valmayor, Helen L. 1984. Orchidiana Philippiniana. Eugenio Lopez Foundation, Inc. Manila, Philippines.

Valmayor, Helen L. (Ed.) 1981. The Complete Writings of Dr. Eduardo A. Quisumbing on Philippine Orchids. Eugenio Lopez Foundation, Inc. Manila, Philippines.
Taxonomic Characteristic of this species:

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandaeae
Subtribe: Sarcanthinae
Alliance: Vanda
Genus: Vanda (Euanthe Jones ex R.Br., 1820)
Species: V. sanderiana (E. sanderiana)
(c) norby_b@rocketmail.com
January 25, 2008
Manila, Philippines

Our Vanda is I think the rarer (therefore, more valuable) Vanda Sanderiana alba. This variety is almost always a winner during orchid shows as typified by the LBOS 2007 Annual Show. Hmmmm... it's beautiful indeed. But it becomes worthy of attraction when people knows it has some monetary worth. People won't give a second look on an object (or a person) unless everyone is clamoring to have it or to be with it (e.g. celebrities).

I only appreciate these things because they are rare and worthy of collecting. I'm not really a horticulturist, our former driver is. Would you believe we had this conversation a while ago?:

Me: "Look over here! There's a Cattleya in bloom! It's the first time I've seen it with those colors!"

Driver: "Uh, they're called Waling-Waling."

To quote Homer of Simpsons, "Doh!" I realized I have a green thumb equivalent of mongo seed sprouter. Although I have my own marcotted Makrut (Kaffir) Lime plants (3 pots now) to look after along with the now decimated Galangal stalks, having this Waling Waling showing its colors is a welcome diversion. My lime is prized for its rarity in its freshest form and for the scarcity of its supply. The Red Thai curries being cooked in our kitchen won't be the same without the fresh Makrut lime leaves. However, my Makrut is for consuming, not for oggling. That's the utilitarian difference.

Apart from my makrut, the blossoming Vanda, the now dead Birds eye chilies and equally dead Galangal stalks, I have little else to give attention to in our mini-jungle at home except when my dog plays through the potted Euphorbiums and knocks it down in the process.

So, when the Vanda flowers wilt and fall away, perhaps this feelings of delight and appreciation for such impermanent beauties will also die away.


Rose Longakit said...

wow, nice waling-waling you got there...better take as many pics in as many angles as you can before they fade away... they're really beautiful.. :)

Carl said...

Great pictures of orchids here. My favorite orchids are the granny smith orchids because of its bright green color. Although these orchids are very beautiful I think a variety of orchids is necessary in every home.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Are you selling or trading your makrut branches, or leaves? I am planning to grow them. Please let me know or drop me a line at celjordan@gmail.com. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

nice waling waling you got there. do you by any chance sell some of these lovely orchids? even a seedling would do...please reply