Orchids are the kind of flowers typically found on every flower shops you see. Their unique colors and structure makes them a favorite among flower-loving people. Some have also seen to collect different species of orchids for a hobby. But typically, orchids are known for their use on flowers given in funerals. This is because orchids usually possess dark colors, particularly purple. Orchids are also known as the species of flowers typically found on every country around the world. But there are several species of orchids that are found on a specific country and location. And the Philippines is known to possess one of the rarest species of orchids flowers around, the Euanthe sanderiana or better known as the “Waling-Waling”.
Euanthe sanderiana is a flower of the orchid family. It is commonly called Waling-waling in the Philippines and is also called Sander’s Euanthe, after Henry Frederick Conrad Sander, a noted orchidologist. The orchid is considered to be the “Queen of Philippine flowers” and is worshiped as a diwata by the native Bagobo people. Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach originally named Euanthe sanderiana as Vanda sanderiana. It has two forms, pink and white, also referred to as alba. M. Roebelin discovered the original pink variety in the Philippines in 1881 or 1882.
The Waling-Waling flowers is an epiphyte that grows on branches of tall dipterocarp trees. It is 25-100 centimeter tall with long narrow leaves. The sepals are greenish with purple streaks and irregular spots. Though similar to the petals, the sepals are smaller, rose purple in color and have purple spots on the lower margins near the base. Its habitat is usually trees found in dipterocarp forests at low and medium altitudes and seldom over 500 meters above sea level. But above it all, the Waling-Waling isn’t for commercial use like any other types of orchids. Unlike any other orchids, the Waling-Waling is known to be endangered, which is why several organization have been formed to protect and conserve this rare type of orchid.
So where in the Philippines does one have to look to find this rare type of orchid? Waling-Waling is endemic to Mindanao in the provinces of Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga where it is found on the trunks of dipterocarp trees at elevations below 500 meters. One popular feature of the Waling-Waling is that it blooms seasonally. Its two-week bloom occurs during the peak months of July until December.
Filipinos have also come to consider the Waling-Waling as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids”. The Waling-Waling is considered by many as the country’s best orchid variety due to its many stunning colorful hybrids. This captivating trait led to hunters and orchid collectors from all over the world harvesting the species almost to extinction.