Power Flower: These Orchids Are Named After VIPs
STORY: Janelle Yong
23 August 2021
If you've ever been to the National Orchid Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens, you've probably paid a visit to the iconic VIP Orchid Garden at some point. Styled like an English backyard garden, the VIP Orchid Garden boasts a prize collection of over 120 VIP orchid hybrids that have been named after various State Visitors and other VIPs to foster diplomatic ties between Singapore and other nations.
Now, US Vice President Kamala Harris has joined the ranks of other VIPs who have had orchids named in honour of them. During a ceremony at the Istana earlier today (23 Aug), she was presented with the Papilionanda Kamala Harris, a hybrid orchid that has light purplish-pink flowers, adorned with prominent pink spots and tessellations, as well as a magenta lip.
Here are some other local orchid hybrids that have been named after VIPs:
Aranthera Anne Black
In 1956, this hybrid became the first orchid to be named after a VIP, beginning a tradition that has endured for 65 years now. It was named after Lady Black, the wife of Sir Robert Black, a former Governor of Singapore. This orchid makes an exemplary cut-flower, as older blooms in a spray of these orchids do not fade when subsequent flowers open.
Aranda Lee Kuan Yew
As you can probably guess from its name, this orchid was named after our founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. This orchid hybrid, which was given its name after Lee Kuan Yew passed away in 2015, matches the one named after his late wife (Vanda Kwa Geok Choo) in terms of colour, form and stature, while also sharing a few species in their respective lineages.
Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana
Named after the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana was christened as such on 22 September 1997, a month after Princess Diana was involved in a fatal car crash. The bloom was originally intended to be presented to the Princess on an official visit to Singapore scheduled just two weeks after her death.
Paravanda Nelson Mandela
This orchid was named in honour of anti-apartheid leader and then-President of South Africa Nelson Mandela during his visit to Singapore in March 1997. The hybrid sports a bright greenish-yellow hue with a reddish tinge, resembling the colours of the South African flag. It won 2nd place at the 18th World Orchid Conference held in France in March 2005.
Renantanda Kofi Annan
In 2000, this orchid was named after his Excellency Kofi Annan, then-Secretary General of the United Nations. The hybrid sports a brilliant, unusual shade of purple and 5 thin, leaf-like petals on each bloom.
Wondering who else has had orchids named after them? Here's a VIP Orchid Garden walk-through put together by one YouTuber: