The Philippines' tropical climate makes it a suitable home to a diverse number of flowers and plants. They are considered natural attractions in parks, public areas and home gardens. Most of them have medicinal properties that treat various ailments and diseases. They are also used in many occasions and traditional celebrations. Some are made into essential oils and scents.
Sampaguita is the Philippines' national flower. This white, sweetly scented tropical bloom belongs to the wide genus of jasmines. Its heavenly fragrance is believed to relieve headaches and promote a feeling of well-being. Its roots are used to treat wounds and snake bites, its leaves and flowers have antipyretic and decongestant properties, and its flower extract acts as a deodorant. Sampaguita requires lots of sunlight. It grows best when the soil stays moist but not soggy. This tropical flower is also well known in Asia for its use in teas, religious offerings and festivities.
Gumamela is a shrub that grows in most home gardens and parks. It is generally cultivated as an ornamental plant. Its flowers come in many colors, including red, yellow, orange, purple and pink. The gumamela flower is popular to children for bubble blowing by mixing the petals with sugar and bath soap. The leaves are usually blended with rose hips to make herbal tea. As an herbal medicine, it is used to treat many ailments because of its characteristics as an expectorant (for sore throat, coughs and bronchitis), diuretic (for urinary tract and bladder infections) and refrigerant (for fever). It is also used to treat boils, swelling, abscesses and mumps. It can be made into a poultice by mashing, crushing or pounding fresh or dried herbs and boiling in water; the mixture is applied directly to a skin inflammation.
Santan is one of the oldest known flowering plants in the Philippines and is a popularly cultivated ornamental shrub. This Iow-maintenance garden plant has flowers blooming all year long. It grows from 6 to 12 feet in height and produces many flower clusters that can be white, tangerine, red, pink and yellow. Most of the santan species (there are hundreds of colorful hybrids commonly cultivated all over the Philippines) don't have fragrance except for a few species of white santan. The santan can also be used for medicinal purposes because of its wound healing, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The rosal, also known as gardenia, is a popular Philippine flower used in making wreaths, bouquets and corsages. Its medicinal characteristics are emollient, emetic, stimulant, diuretic, antiperiodic, cathartic, antispasmodic and antiseptic. This diffusely spreading ornamental plant has a smooth, unarmed shrub that grows from 3 to 6 feet in height. A decoction of the bark of its stem and branches can be employed as a tonic for intermittent fevers and dysentery, and also for abdominal pains including menorrhagia and uterine discomfort.
The makahiya, a flower in the Mimosa genus, is an interesting plant, especially to children, because its fernlike leaflets open and close depending on its environment. Also known as the sensitive or bashful plant, this diffusely spreading, half-woody herb has very sensitive leaves that almost instantaneously fold together, then the leaf stalk droops, when touched. Then it slowly opens itself again as long as it remains untouched for a few minutes to half an hour. Warming and shaking also makes its leaves fold together. In the evening, the leaves tend to fold and bend as a reaction to the absence of light.