14 Mar2009


Through a broken pane of capiz shell, I caught this glimpse of the gardens at the Araneta home in Bago City. The spacious home had an equally spacious garden, and right beside the entry gate was this lush and wonderfully fragrant sampaguita bush/vine. I always knew that sampaguita was a jasmine, but I didn’t realize that there were dozens and dozens of types of jasmine. According to this wonderful site, our sampaguita is a Jasminum sambac, native to India, Burma and Sri Lanka and the surrounding areas…


I have never, until now, wondered how it got its local name, but the same site writes that it is Spanish for the local phrase “sumpa kita’ or “I promise you.” Isn’t that kinda cool? It’s like a British person deciding to name Mumbai Bombay instead because he couldn’t figure out the accent. So this Spanish dude or dudette decided “sumpa kita” would become “sampaguita” instead… :)


The national flower of the Philippines, it is ALSO the national flower of Indonesia. It’s fragrance can be a bit cloying in a small space like an automobile, hanging from the rear-view mirror… but out in a natural setting like a garden, an occasional whiff of sweet scent drifting over from a large flowering bush is most pleasant.


Does anyone know where they grow this flower commercially, so that all those street vendors are constantly supplied with endless garlands of sampaguita flowers? I would love to do a dinner and encrust several centerpieces with sampaguita blooms… never once have I seen baskets full of unstrung sampaguita… it must be an amazing sight!



  1. juls says:

    i think our national flower should be the Waling-Waling, not the sampaguita….

    Mar 14, 2009 | 1:42 pm


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  3. VIRG says:

    I agree, Waling-Waling is more appropriate.

    I think the scent of sampaguita blooms on the dining table might be too overpowering for me to fully appreciate the food being served.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 2:22 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    I would also agree that the waling-waling or other more native flower would be more appropriate as a “national flower” than the sampaguita…

    Mar 14, 2009 | 2:38 pm

  5. Lava Bien says:


    I agree, as sampaguita is not really native or exclisuve to us.

    Much like the “Kalabaw”, everybody and their grandmothers have this in any given country in Southeast Asia, mainland China and even in Australia (where at one time, became a pest to them as they had this one place where they had too many of them and is destroying some crops). A pest to others a national symbol to us, and a very useful tasty animal [Pancit Batil patong?] for the rest of the farming lands in other countries.

    Philippines is so beautiful, especially the beaches in the Visayas and Mindanao.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 2:52 pm

  6. iya says:

    Hi MM.. growers are in San Pedro, Laguna. Mostly cottage-industry with the lei-making techniques passed on from one generation to the next. Sampaguita is easy to plant and OUR national flower so I was surprised when a few years ago I wanted to buy sampaguita plants in pots but couldn’t find enough from different plant nurseries. When I was able to secure several pots, I propagated them and have since given away many pots to friends and relatives with the request to also propagate this beautiful medicinal plant. I usually use this as table centerpiece-cutting a branch/portion with the most number of open flowers and buds and place in a shallow container with water.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 4:39 pm

  7. titashi says:

    i believe the town of San Pedro, Laguna supplies most of the sampaguita we see in the streets : )

    Mar 14, 2009 | 4:45 pm

  8. Jaja says:

    I believe that San Pedro just had a “sampaguita festival”. They even made a really long string of sampaguita flowers and submitted that as an entry for the longest flowers on a string to the Guinness World Records.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 6:15 pm

  9. sister says:

    How about Phalaenopsis Philippenses, otherwise known as the white moth orchid, now widely greenhouse cultivated and sold around the world and naned for the Philippines!

    Mar 14, 2009 | 6:20 pm

  10. cecille says:

    i can almost smell the sampaguita just by looking at the photo. I live beside a dorm called Sampaguita and most nights the smell of the flower permeates the air.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 9:04 pm

  11. naghihingalo says:

    Hmm- on the etymology of sampaguita, I wonder if some of our ancestors were having fun at the colonizers’ expense. “I promise you” in Tagalog would be:

    “Sinusumpa ko sa iyo”
    “Sumusumpa ako sa iyo”

    If some Spanish guy thought he heard something like sampaguita, someone was probably telling him “Sinusumpa kita”- which means “I curse you.”

    Etymology aside, I love sampaguita but it’s saddening that the thousands of kids selling them on Manila’s streets have to do so at such a young age.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 11:32 pm

  12. zena says:

    The kampuput is a relative, i believe based on appearance and fragrance. Very similar scent and it looks like a cluster of sampaguita petals. Easy to grow and one flower is enough to be noteceable, smell-wise.

    Mar 14, 2009 | 11:42 pm

  13. Diwata08 says:

    I agree with VIRG about sampaguita blooms on the dining table. I do know of a wedding that had sampaguita garlands along the aisle. The church smelled heavenly…(that is, if you like sampaguita).

    Mar 15, 2009 | 1:54 am

  14. Vicky Go says:

    Back home in Cabuyao, we have both the double sampaguita growing profusely as garden fencing/bakod bushes. But we also have one, fragile bush of the less showy but more subtly fragrant jasmine. We used to gather the delicate blooms & my lola would thread them in her hair comb that she uses to hold her bun in place. Now every time I smell jasmine I am struck with nostalgic memories … about my lola Iyang, about Cabuyao, about a simpler, happier childhood.

    Mar 15, 2009 | 3:13 am

  15. betty q. says:

    I love Jasmine tea (which is also the tea they use to make Honey Green Milk Bubble tea!).

    Another AHA! moment, MM!!!!….Sampaguita infused tea!!!!!! What do you think?…not too much flowers, though. It can be overpowwering. Just enough to give it that nice whiff of a scent like Jasmine tea!

    Mar 15, 2009 | 5:11 am

  16. ntgerald says:

    Indonesia has three national flowers:
    1. Jasminum sambac – found in several neighboring countries as well
    2. Phalaenopsis amabilis – also found in Palawan, the moth orchid is similar in appearance to the more common Phalaenopsis aphrodite.
    3. Rafflesia arnoldii – the Indonesian species of the world’s largest flower (maybe they have other Rafflesias as well). The Philippines has three species – R. manilana, R. schadenbergiana, and R. novum.

    Mar 15, 2009 | 6:34 am

  17. madspartan says:

    A sampaguita bush can yield quite a bit when it’s in the mood to bloom.

    I kinda like leaving it on the bush because you’re right: it can be cloying when massed in an enclosed space. I trained my sampaguita to wrap itself on my front fence (shields the house from view and blocks street smells).

    Orange jasmine is lovely too — but I could never pluck the blooms whole. They fall apart when I attempt to harvest them (scent is like a lighter blend of sampaguita and kamuning). The fruit (don’t know if it’s edible for humans) attracts the birds — so I have birdsong and scent. Pretty.

    Mar 15, 2009 | 6:37 am

  18. myra_p says:

    Sampaguita and jasmine were flowers of my youth, including honeysuckle… Used to know which houses in my village had plants I could pilfer flowers from, but now, decades later, they’re all gone, replaced by boring ornamentals, bamboo grass and the like. Too bad. Would love to grow my own plants, if only I didn’t live in a condo…

    Mar 15, 2009 | 7:17 am

  19. thea says:

    i lived in san pedro, laguna for 8 years, and they grow rows and rows of sampaguitas in empty lots. they smelled so good…

    you need to think twice though of using sampaguitas as centerpieces for a dinner party because it could compete with the smell of the food. it’s been said that when you design centerpieces for restaurant tables or just an intimate dinner at home, always use unscented candles or flowers that don’t give off scents that will change the characteristics of your dinner.
    a huge bouquet would be nice in the foyer of your home though, to greet your guests when they arrive… :D

    Mar 15, 2009 | 7:43 am

  20. denise says:

    i’ve tried puto infused with sampaguita…it was done by an HRM class in UST…i dont remember much the taste, but the novelty of the idea stuck on my mind…they even put a fresh flower on top of each puto

    Mar 15, 2009 | 7:52 am

  21. Ipat says:

    Has anyone tried the sampaguita ice cream in Ilustrado and the Met Museum Cafe?

    I tried to have sampaguita for my floral arrangement at my wedding 15 years ago and the best my florist could do was to string them on tingting and make a sort of spray bouquet with them.

    i agree Waling waling should be the national flower. It’s endemic and we’ve taken it a very long way. We should avoid having a national anything that is shared with some other country. Narra is also apparently the national tree of Indonesia and isn’t as indigenous to the Philippines as first thought. HOw about AMalabayabas or Philippine teak instead?

    Mar 15, 2009 | 8:17 am

  22. Mimi says:

    MM: Mrs. Hardy Legaspi, call 847-2988 or visit them at 41 San Vicente Street, Legaspi Compound, San Pedro, Laguna…from the internet link http://traveleronfoot.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/san-pedros-sampaguita/

    Mar 15, 2009 | 1:46 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Mimi, thanks for that link! Now I can probably order a gallon of the blooms for a party… :)

    Mar 15, 2009 | 4:01 pm

  24. Mimi says:

    very welcome, mm. i would try floating open-petal sampaguitas in small crystal bowls with water, maybe with a small floating candle in the middle? line the length of the table? i can imagine how cloying the smell if there were bunches and bunches, also they do bruise and turn brown at the edges when left dry.

    Mar 15, 2009 | 4:44 pm

  25. Apicio says:

    But if we change the national flower to Vanda Sanderiana, we would lose that durable musical link to Dolores Paterno´s beautiful and truly familiar habanera, Flora Filipina, popularly sung as Samguita.

    Mar 15, 2009 | 10:08 pm

  26. Paul says:

    Sampaguita has nothing to do with sumpa kita. It is the tagalogs’ adaptation of a still another adapted spanish word Champaquita, or little champaca or sampaguita . However,it is a misnomer, since the Champaca is a different species, however closely they resemble each other. BTW, I really like your blog.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 12:49 am

  27. Ejit says:

    Sampaguita garlands that are being sold now are very different before… remember that movie of Sharon Cuneta where she is a sampaguita vendor and she always put a sampaguita garland to her favorite actress by the person of Cherrie Gil? there are a lot of sampaguita before in one garland compared to a few pieces that they put in one garland now.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 7:09 am

  28. CecileJ says:

    MM, if you see a kampuput,you will be blown away! Its a sampaguita variety with multiple rows of petals and smells as sweet. We used to have one at our old house but when the house was sold, were unable to make cuttings.

    Does anyone know where I can get a kampuput plant? Zena?

    Mar 16, 2009 | 8:24 am

  29. Marketman says:

    Paul, I like that explanation, as champaca is a fragrant bloom, and a smaller version would get that name…

    Mar 16, 2009 | 8:33 am

  30. Blaise says:

    MM, have you smelled the flowers of papaya? I love the scent of sampaguita, as well as ilang-ilang, but I love the scent of papaya flowers the most.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 9:30 am

  31. DADD-F says:

    Agree ako sa waling-waling!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 9:38 am

  32. roelm says:

    Hi Marketman,

    Judging from the name, sampaguita is the diminutive (Spanish) of sampaga (champaca ?). So, sampaguita probably means a little champaca as Paul earlier mentioned. Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelia_champaca
    Note the alternative names for the flower.

    I also think that we should change our national flower. We have many more impressive flowers that are native or even endemic to our country.

    Here are some possible candidates from among our orchids:
    1) Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana)
    2) Vanda luzonica
    3) Phalaenopsis philippinensis (mentioned in an earlier post)

    Mar 16, 2009 | 3:20 pm

  33. meekerz says:

    I vaguely recall seeing a show (pinoy records?) recently where they attempted to make a record of the longest sampaguita garland. Did anyone see this? And were they succesful?

    Mar 16, 2009 | 4:39 pm

  34. corrine says:

    betty q. I also love jasmine tea but not the one in tea bags which have faint smell of jasmine flowers. I love the loose ones.

    I can’t forget the huge rosary made of sampaguita flowers, draped over the coffin of my uncle. It was a lovely and serene sight. Amazing how such small, fragrant flowers have become part of the different stages of our life.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 7:39 pm

  35. sonnysj says:


    We have a kampuput bush in our yard in Bulacan which has been there for as long as I can remember. I guess the bush is more than 60 years old now! From a huge, thick bush of my childhood, maliit na ngayon yun plant. I guess I have to replant now.

    I haven’t seen any kampuput in all the plant shows I have been too so far. If I am successful with my propagation project, I can give you some plants once it is established. Or I can just give you the cuttings at ikaw na lang mag-tanim.
    You can e-mail me at sonny@rekom.ph

    Mar 17, 2009 | 5:09 pm

  36. Yolanda J. Llorente says:

    I just want to have one in my garden. Does anyone know of any store where we can buy here in Sacramento, CA?

    Will appreciate any info.

    Apr 1, 2009 | 11:35 pm

  37. traci says:

    CecileJ – we have kampuput plants in our farm in Batangas. Sampaguita we have in front of our house in Makati. I’d like to know where I could buy a champaca plant! I love a fragrant garden.

    Apr 29, 2009 | 9:08 pm

  38. manhater says:

    i think tha sampaguita should remain our national flower because it symbolizes simplicity and purity.:D

    Jun 27, 2009 | 7:49 pm

  39. Del Lynch says:

    To Yolanda Llorente,
    I have been successful in propagating sambac or sampaguita
    from cuttings. The plants go dormant during winter but
    come back in spring and in their full blooms during the
    summer months.

    Jul 18, 2009 | 6:20 am

  40. Gay Benueza says:

    I wonder if Ilustrado resto in Intramuros still has sampaguita ice cream? I had it several times a decade ago when I used to work in the area. Makes one feel like a virgin (saint!) after eating it!

    Jul 28, 2009 | 3:50 pm

  41. Marichu says:

    @Yolanda J. Llorente: Try Home Depot or Lowe’s. I know they have calamansi because my tita was able to buy a potted plan from Home Depot in Vallejo. So they might have sampaguita in stock or can at least order one for you. Also local nurseries might have them since Sacramento weather is conducive to growing sampaguita. Good luck!

    Aug 28, 2009 | 11:13 am

  42. oscar dg talag says:

    I’m from chrysanthemum village,san pedro,laguna, phils.
    We are inviting resourceful volunteers to feed us additional info of Sampaguita aka different spicies, propagation, success stories because of sampaguita flower, oldest picture memorabilia, new songs or poems about sampaguita, how to extract sampaguita oil, and alike.
    Please send us ur intent the earliest time.
    In behalf of our Hon. Mayor Calex & Mrs. Baby Cataquiz we thank you.

    Jan 5, 2010 | 11:52 pm

  43. Jack Hammer says:

    MM !! Re: BOMBAY….it was a Portuguese possession and was gifted by the Portuguese King to the British as a Princess’ Dowry…the name is Portuguese…BOM meaning Good and BAHIA (archaic spelling of Bay)…which is Bay in English and Portuguese and I guess in Spanish as well.

    Jan 7, 2010 | 5:23 pm


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