08 May2005

Azucena / Tuberoses

by Marketman

Azucena or Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) have a azu1very strong and distinctive fragrance. They are almost overpowering if left in a small unventilated room but are perfect for rooms with lots of space and flowing breezes that carry the fragrance in pleasant wafts around the area. The smell of azucena is similar to gardenias but can be even more cloying. I first noticed these flowers in Bali, Indonesia where they were frequently used in public arrangements in hotel lobbies, restaurants, etc. There was such an abundance of them there that you would see 50-80 stems generously stuffed into a basket and placed in the middle of a large lobby. Turns out we grow them in the Philippines as well but these are less abundant. Tuberoses are a perennial bulb that tend to prefer cooler weather, so I presume ours are grown up in the Mountain Province. If happy, their flower spikes can grow 3-4 feet long and have up to 30 flowers per spike. They originated from Mexico where it is said that the Aztecs used tuberose oils to flavor their chocolate. The oils are also heavily sought after today for perfumes.

I like to use tuberoses at the beach because azu2they are easy to transport, sturdy, good-looking and possess that powerful fragrance that gets carried off by sea breezes. Recently, I placed just a few stems of single flower variety tuberoses in tall clear glass vases. The three vases in the photo above held less than PHP80 worth of flowers. As the blooms opened, you could easily see them up close and appreciate them in detail. Tuberoses also come in a double flower variety as seen in this second photo where there is greater bulk and more petals on the flowers. In this second arrangement, I stuffed over 36 stems of tuberoses in a large glass vase, with a total cost of about PHP250 if you buy them from the highway robbers who sell flowers roadside in Tagaytay. It would cost half of that if you trekked to the Dimasalang wholesale flower market.



  1. Carol says:

    One of the thrills of going online each morning is finding a new post from Marketman :-)

    Dangwa is paradise but getting there is hell :-(
    I discovered that the variety and the prices at Market! Market! are much better that those at Farmer’s. Can’t wait to check out the Azucena! (And all along I thought Azucena was all of ulam made of dog meat, hehe.)

    May 8, 2005 | 8:11 am


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  3. allan y. says:

    I totally agree with carol. It seems that my day is not complete unless i read the latest post from marketman. Ive been doing this since last october.i could say that im one of the earliest fan of marketman haha! your blog is truly addicting mr. Marketman!!! keep up the superb work!! :)

    May 8, 2005 | 1:28 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    Thank you for such kind and encouraging comments. Vendors have reported that they have received positive feedback and sales from being featured, readers have sent such encouraging emails and comments, I have learned so much from all of you, this site has and continues to meet all of its original objectives and I am thrilled, as you can imagine. Many thanks for your frequent visits and I am glad you continue enjoy the site (gosh, such pressure to find interesting items to post!)

    Carol, try going to Dangwa around 8ish at night after most of the rush hour traffic but before the truck ban is lifted. Or really late like around 1 am if you are up to it. If you have a good eye and bargain, you save at least 50% off farmers and MarketMarket prices. But I agree it’s a hassle! I only go for big events and when I purchase serious volume…

    Allan, yes, you are definitely one of my earliest readers… thanks.

    To everyone else, a big thank you for supporting something that was important to me, but turns out is just as important/useful to lots of farmers, entrepreneurs, vendors, buyers and just interested internet surfers! Maraming salamat!

    May 8, 2005 | 7:56 pm

  5. stefoodie says:

    uy, thanks for this post! “azucena” happens to be my mother’s maiden name and i got a lot of “asosena” jokes in school. i had no idea they were polianthes tuberosa; when i ordered mine none of the catalogs mentioned “azucena”. just got a shipment of these bulbs last week and i’m waiting for our last frost date to plant them. my mom will be so happy when she comes to visit! here in the US they are hardy in zones 7-10. i’m in zone 5 so i’ll need to dig them up before wintertime, and plant them again in the spring.

    don’t think you need to feel pressured. things that most people find “mundane” can be incredibly interesting, esp. to those who are as passionate as you are about food and other “finds”.

    May 9, 2005 | 5:16 am

  6. fely barcelon says:

    my day is never complete without browsing on the marketmanila.
    Great!!!!thanks for making the life of working moms like
    much easier by knowing “whereto get what” and your simple
    and easy recipes, they’re wonderful.

    May 9, 2005 | 10:36 am

  7. Mila says:

    I definitely enjoy reading the posts, they’re well written, interesting, articulate, and mouth watering (the photos always make me drool!). Your insights on the history of the food, flower, item, plus variations on the theme make you the Alton Brown of our city. Or the Jeffrey Steingarten, though not to his excess.
    Didn’t realize azucenas were different from snapdragons, thanks for the insight! I go to Dangwa at 5 in the morning, bring pails with water to stuff my buys. Usually with P1000 I can decorate my house and office.

    May 9, 2005 | 10:55 am

  8. Michael says:

    I’ve been looking for this plant in the Philippines since 1990 when I started collecting “old world” Philippine plants. Unfortunately, all the gardens in Los Baños didn’t have them. Somebody promised to bring me some from Bicol but never did. Fortunately, I found them in Mexico and brought 200 bulbs when I went home last June. I was told they’ve grown big now but no flowers yet. I didn’t know they also grow them in Tagaytay. Anyway, they’re more commonly called “nardos” in Mexico.
    I really like your website. Very informative.

    Aug 28, 2005 | 3:14 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Michael, I think these must also be grown in the mountains around baguio as they prefer coolish weather. I also saw these in the Baguio market several months back.

    Aug 28, 2005 | 4:15 pm

  10. Azucena says:

    i enjoy reading about these flowers im working on a report on my name and having fu learning more about my name

    Sep 25, 2006 | 4:32 am

  11. caryn says:

    i used azucena, white lillies and white roses for floral arrangements for the wedding of a friend’s sister in san sebastian. it was a white-green theme, so the azucena worked out really great. plus, the wedding was in the morning and the flowers were dewy fresh. i sourced mine at dangwa since i lived thereabouts and they were dirt cheap. i always do flower-shopping at dangwa and you’re right, 1am is just the right time to go. things have been cleaner since the atienza overhaul, but i simply cannot stand those tulip-shaped lamposts! a friend and i spied an amazing find a few years back, long stems with orange-ish fruit dangling from them. the vendors said they called it ‘mickey mouse’ since the fruit had ‘ears’ but i have no idea what they’re really called. have you seen these and do you know what they are? they make really good conversation pieces!

    Oct 26, 2006 | 12:04 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    caryn, I agree the tulip lamps are hideous. I know the orange fruit like thing you write off – sometimes called mickey mouse, sometimes fox-face. It actually is grown here in Tagaytay and Davao…but I don’t know what the scientific name is. It comes from a vine and starts off green then “ripens” to orange. I also saw some at the Bohol Bee Farm…

    Oct 26, 2006 | 12:58 pm

  13. azusena says:

    my name is a flower and never saw thanks to you i will be in the couch pulling my hair off for all your help,


    Mar 24, 2007 | 11:00 am

  14. Milagros Martinez says:

    As a kid Iwill purchase this flower every saturday for their aroma now living in Texas I will like to plant it.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 3:43 am

  15. azucena j says:

    Hi Marketman, This is the first time i see your page and so glad to see the flowers for the first time in my 50 years of life. I live in New Jersey and I would like to plant them if I know where to buy the bulb. Any suggestions. Thanks a LOT.

    May 26, 2007 | 2:11 am

  16. Marketman says:

    azucena j, if you google “tuberose bulbs” there seems to be a supplier who will ship the bulbs from Tennessee… good luck!

    May 26, 2007 | 5:48 am

  17. Carmen says:

    Azucenas are a staple now at the Dimasalang flower market, along with the white asters. You can get both the single and the double varieties, prices range from 20 to 40 pesos a dozen, I guess depending on availability of supply. Go to the area between Dimasalang and Maria Clara. I’ve been walking to the flower market at least once a week in the early mornings since March this year as part of my exercise routine (my only exercise, actually) and I’ve always seen azucenas, even on Monday mornings when there seems to be the least amount of flowers on sale and some stalls are closed. The sellers say the flowers come from Laguna.

    MM, have you ever been able to make the double flowers bloom after you’ve bought them? I’d usually get the single variety because they are the ones which will bloom all the way to the top. I always fail to get the double variety to bloom in the vase. I asked one of the sellers and she said that the double variety really does not open anymore once it’s been cut from the plant.

    Also, have you noticed that they tend to become fragrant in the late afternoon? Do you know why?

    Just a note, when my mom got married her bridal bouquet consisted of azucenas and calla lilies.


    Sep 11, 2007 | 10:31 am

  18. Melissa Pina says:

    Hi,I wanted to know if there was another name for the Azucena flower. I was told that they were also called Lillys. Is that true? Or are they most known as tuberoses?
    Melissa Pina

    Oct 4, 2007 | 12:45 am

  19. Marketman says:

    melissa, yes, they are also known as tuberoses.

    Oct 4, 2007 | 7:08 am

  20. sandy says:

    My Grandma passed on and this flower was her favorite…she will purchased them every saturday morning in Puerto Rico…I decided to Google the word azucena and I found u Marketman…so thanks for the information and the picture of the flower my grandmother loved so much…now I can continue the tradition by bying azucenas…God Bless you.

    Dec 1, 2007 | 7:19 am

  21. Pablo says:

    Just found you web page! We likewise are growing the Azucena bulbs(tuberose)here in the United States. Someone just found our web page by typing azucena, http://www.tuberoseforsale.com with affordable prices. We are offering a “Head Start Kit” so that you can get flowers sooner. By starting bulbs now you can have flowers in 3 months and another flower 3 to 4 months later.
    We have been growing the tuberoses for about six years and have figured out the do’s and don’ts. Any inquiries will answered.
    Thank you,
    Growing Smiles and Food for the Soul,

    Feb 2, 2008 | 9:06 am

  22. Xavier says:

    Hi, im xavier from Batangas, im very interested in cultivating tuberoses and i would like to ask where i could get some materials and information on planting tuberoses. Thank you very much.

    Oct 12, 2008 | 8:16 am

  23. Xavier says:

    are there any tuberose growers here in the philippines? or do i need to order bulbs abroad?

    Oct 12, 2008 | 8:19 am

  24. Rose Reyes says:

    where is the biggest plantation of Polianthes tuberosa here in the Philippines?

    Nov 11, 2008 | 4:02 am

  25. Loraine says:


    I have been looking for a place to by tuberoses in the Ohio area. Was wondering if anyone had any insight on where, if at all I could purchase this beautiful and unforgettable flower? I always bring back a leigh from Hawaii with tuberoses in it of course that is a costly trip for a leigh. Thanks for your time!


    Jan 14, 2009 | 10:35 am

  26. karla says:

    hello my middle name is azucena somehow i am interested in finding azucenas i will love to grow them in my house thanks for the tips.they have a special meaning in my hearth.

    Feb 18, 2009 | 10:01 am

  27. York says:

    hi i just found your page…its great! here in Negros, we grow flowers at Don Salvador Benedicto. A vast plantation of azucena can be found in that mountainous municipality of the province.

    Mar 12, 2009 | 6:24 pm

  28. Asuzena says:

    what a nice beautiful flower haha!!
    it’s funny because that’s my name!!

    Mar 18, 2009 | 10:25 am

  29. misba says:

    nice photos of azucenas ,sampagitas ,but i like rosal, also
    its a nice white flowers so fragrance ,all this kind of flowers got sweet smell.i have rosals and sampaguitas,but i need azucenas flowers .
    from san isidro,san fernando,cebu

    Aug 13, 2009 | 12:01 pm


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