Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim

Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim, also known as the Singapore orchid, the Princess Aloha orchid and formerly as Vanda Miss Joaquim, is a hybrid orchid (a grex) that is the national flower of Singapore.[1] For its resilience and year-round blooming quality, it was chosen on 15 April 1981 to represent Singapore's uniqueness and hybrid culture.

Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim
Hybrid parentagePapilionanthe teres (Vanda teres) × Papilionanthe hookeriana (Vanda hookeriana)


Ashkhen Hovakimian (Agnes Joaquim) bred this orchid which bears her name. It was recognised as a hybrid not only by orchid expert Henry Ridley in 1893[2] and again in 1896, but by other contemporary orchid growers as well as orchid journals including the Orchid Review. Sander's Complete List of Orchid Hybrids, which distinguished between natural and artificial hybrids, listed Vanda Miss Joaquim as an artificial hybrid. Vanda Miss Joaquim is a cross between the Burmese Vanda teres (now called Papilionanthe teres) and the Malayan Vanda hookeriana (now called Papilionanthe hookeriana). It was not known which of the two species produced the seeds and which one provided the pollen. The hybrid was shown to Henry Ridley, the director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Ridley examined it, had it sketched and sent a description to the Gardeners' Chronicle writing that: "A few years ago Miss Joaquim, a lady residing in Singapore, well known for her success as a horticulturist, succeeded in crossing Vanda hookeriana Rchb. f., and V. teres, two plants cultivated in almost every garden in Singapore."[2][3]

On 15 April 1981, Singapore Minister for Culture S. Dhanabalan proclaimed the species to be Singapore's national flower.[4]

DNA sequences from maternally inherited chloroplast DNA have been used to determine that the pod parent was P. teres var. andersonii and, by exclusion, the pollen parent is P. hookeriana.[5]

In 2016, National Parks Board and National Heritage Board officially acknowledged Joaquim created the orchid.[6]

The scientific name as of 2019 is Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim, as both parent species are now placed in the genus Papilionanthe.[7]

This orchid is also the first registered plant hybrid from Singapore.[8]


It is a free flowering plant and each inflorescence can bear up to 12 buds, and usually 4 flower blossom at a time. Each flower measures 5 cm across and 6 cm tall.[9] The petals are twisted such that the back surface faces the front like its parents. The two petals on the top and the top sepal are rosy-violet, while the 2 lateral sepals on the lower half are pale mauve. The large and board lip of the orchid which looks like a fan is colored violet-rose, and merges into a contrasting fiery orange that are finely spotted with dark purple center.

Papilionanthe 'Miss Joaquim' is a robust sun loving plant that requires heavy fertilizing, vertical support to enable it to grow straight and tall along with free air movement and high humidity. It starts blossoming after its stem rises 40 to 50 cm[10] above the support.


  1. "Vanda Miss Joaquim". Singapore Infopedia. Singapore Government. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  2. Henry Ridley (1893). "New or Noteworthy plants: Vanda Miss Joaquim [inter V. Hookerianam et V. teretem proles hybrida]". Gardeners' Chronicle. 3. 13: 740.
  3. "The Vanda Miss Joaquim Orchid". Amassia Publishing. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  4. Hew, C.S.; Yam, T.W.; Arditti, J. (2002). Biology of Vanda Miss Joaquim. Singapore University Press. p. 35. ISBN 9789971692513.
  5. Khew, G.S.-W.; Chia, T.F. (2011). "Parentage determination of Vanda Miss Joaquim (Orchidaceae) through two chloroplast genes rbcL and matK". AoB Plants. 2011: plr018. doi:10.1093/aobpla/plr018. PMC 3156982. PMID 22476488.
  6. Hermes (7 September 2016). "Vanda Miss Joaquim's namesake gets official credit as creator | The Straits Times". Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  7. RHS - Orchid details: Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim
  8. "Vanda Miss Joaquim - Our National Flower". National Parks Board. 16 November 2019.
  9. Vanda Miss Joaquim Characteristics Flower Chimp Singapore
  10. Singapore Infopedia Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  • Arditti, J., and C. S. Hew. 2007. The origin of Vanda Miss Jaoquim. Pages 261–309 in K. M. Cameron, J. Arditti and T. Kull (eds.), Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspectives, Vol. IX, The New York Botanical Garden Press, New York.
  • Johnson H. and N. Wright, 2008 Vanda Miss Joaquim: Singapore's National Flower and the Legacy of Agnes and Ridley, Suntree Media Pte Ltd, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-0333-9
  • Teoh, E.S. (2005). Orchids of Asia. Times Editions- Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 9789812610157.
  • Wright N. H. 2000. The Origins of Vanda Miss Joaquim. Malayan Orchid Review 34; 70–73.
  • Wright N. H. 2003 Respected Citizens: the History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia, Amassia Publishing, Middle Park, Australia.
  • Wright N. H. 2004. After a re-examination of the origins of Vanda Miss Joaquim. Orchid Review 112: 292–2988.
  • Yam, T. W. 1999. A possible solution to the parentage riddle
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