The Philippines’ rich volcanic soil, bright sunshine and enough rain account for the healthy growth of thousands of plant species in the archipelago. From about 3000 species of giant trees to thousands more species of mosses and lichens, Philippine forests comprise variety of plant life that not one of its neighbors has. Indonesia and Malaysia may have similar climate and natural environment that can sustain growth of tropical plants but some Australian types like Eucalyptus and Sino-Himalayan plants can only be found in this country.
The Bamboo, which has 54 different species thriving throughout the country, is a fast-growing timbered grass which can be transformed into lots of income-generating products such as music instruments, handicrafts, bags, lamps, furniture. It is a kind of plant that can also be used for essential purposes like building houses, buildings and fences.
The Coconut Palm is another interesting plant which can be utilized for similar usage. It is manufactured the same way as Bamboo but it grows mainly in the lowlands and has fruit that produces oil, vinegar and liquor. Narra, the proclaimed national tree of the Philippines is the source of hardwood and proven to have the highest quality for furniture making and home furnishing. Other hard wooden trees used for similar purposes are Mahogany, Anislag, Kamagong and hundreds more. Nipa Palm, the unofficial national tree of the country that thrives in the swampy areas near the sea is an essential material used for building the traditional Filipino house. Nowadays island resorts and some recreational places in the country patterned their designs after the uniqueness of Nipa Hut.
Another crop which is unnatural to the Philippine plant life is the Pili Nut. It is the fruit of an immense-growing tree that commonly thrives in the rich soil of Bicol provinces particularly Sorsogon. This delicious nutty fruit is harvested yearly from May to October for the production of candies, chocolates, jams and desserts. Durian, a fruit famous for its horrid smell but delightful taste is a native of the well-preserved mountains of Mindanao. And in the volcanic soil of Camiguin, Lanzones, a tasty fruit with its very distinct character, is the main pride and even the subject of the island’s colorful festival. Due to their rich red soil, the islands of Panay and Guimaras produce the sweetest tasting Mango in the country. Others can be also found in Zambales.
Sampaguita is the national flower but there are about 1000 species of orchids including the Waling-waling or commonly described as the queen of the Philippine orchids and nepenthes or the carnivorous pitcher plant.
Discovered by a German Taxonomist Heinrich Gustav Reicheinback in Mindanao in 1882, Waling-waling was sought as one of the largest species in the world, famous for its large and colorful kind. It grows on tree trunks in the rainforest of Davao, Sultan Kudarat and other parts of Mindanao, blooming only once a year between July and October. This flower since then earned a reputation as the most sought-after specie in the thick jungles of Mindanao. Thousands of colorful and attractive hybrids discoveries inspired by Reicheinback followed and resulted to bringing Philippine flowers a part of world’s multi-billion dollar orchid and cut flower industry.
The insect-eating nepenthes or commonly called pitcher plant of Mindanao asserted to being more recognized. Pronounced ne-PEN-thayz, the name is derived from a magic potion which is said to make a person forget all suffering. This plant of 70 different kinds is commonly called pitcher plant. Nepenthes are tropical epiphytes (they live on other plants but are not parasitic), and they feed themselves with insects which they catch in their pitchers (water-filled funnels containing digestive enzymes). The characteristic ’lids’ on the pitchers prevent rainwater from diluting the enzymes. It is common in the tropical soil of the Philippines, Northern Australia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
This richness of plant life in the Philippines has been estimated to thousands of different species. However, due to its irrational exploitation and usage, many of them decreased and disappeared radically in numbers. If illegal logging and deforestation will not be prevented, those remaining species might face the threat of extinction in the next century.