Philippine flowers Jasminum sambac

When it comes to simplicity, yet captivating scents in flowers, there’s only one kind of flower known for such features, the Jasmine flower.

There are many types of Jasmine flower, one of the most popular is the Jasminum sambac. Jasminum sambac is a species of jasmine native to southwestern and southern Asia. Countries such as India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka hold the flower at such high value because of its wide uses such as in medicine as well as in food.

There is, however, one country that respected the simplicity of the flower so much that they have chosen it as their national flower, the Philippines.

The National Philippine flowers

In the Philippines the flower is known as sampaguita and was adopted by the government as its national Philippine flowers in 1937. Filipinos string the flowers into leis, corsages and crowns and distill its oils and sell them in stores, streets, and outside churches. The garlands may be used to welcome guests, or as an offering or adornment in religious altars. Its oil is believed to be a cure for headache. It represents purity and love. The term Sampaguita came from a native Filipino folk lore of two lovers.

As the legend goes, there were two lovers, Lakambini and Lakam Galing. Before Lakam Galing went off to battle to defend their land, the two exchanged the words, Sumpa kita (I pledge you), a promise of their undying love. Lakam Galing was killed in battle and when Lakambini heard of the news, she died of grief. At her grave site, there soon sprouted a vine that bore fragrant white Philippine flowers, a symbol of her purity and untainted love.

Philippine flowers as a Medicine

In the book Medicinal Plants of the Philippines by Eduardo Quisumbing, it is reported that sampaguita flowers are being applied as a poultice to the breasts of women to act as a lactifuge. The Philippine flowers also yield an essential oil similar to that of jasminee (Jasminum grandiflorum).

The roots present several uses. They may be used to treat venereal diseases when given fresh, while a tincture made from them is reported to be used as sedative, anaesthetic, and vulnerary. The leaves are being used as a lactifuge, applied externally to the breasts. The leaves can also be given internally in decoction for fevers. If boiled in oil, they exude a balsam which is used by the natives to alleviate eye complaints. The dried leaves, on the other hand, are soaked in water and made into a poultice, then applied to indolent ulcers.

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