By May Tan
As a country, Myanmar is obsessed with flowers. From the moment you set foot in the country, you will notice flowers everywhere. You will see flowers being sold at small shops in every corner of cities, flowers offered to deities in pagodas and temples, and flower used as decorations in your hotel room.
Myanmar is home to some exotic flower varieties. Here are a few that you can look out for.
Burma padauk is the national flower of Myanmar and mostly associated with Thingyan, Myanmar’s new year. The flowers bloom on a medium-sized deciduous tree. The flowers are a stunning yellow, which adds glamour to the local new year.
This national symbol is usually in full bloom in April, around the time of the new year. The local people believe that the padauk is a symbol of strength, love, youth and romance. The padauk tree itself is useful as wood for making furniture and wooden structures.
If seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom has been on your to-do list, you got to head to Myanmar. Early in the year, these wonderful flowers adorn the streets of Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of the country. You can also head to Pyin Oo Lwin, the colonial-era hill station, to enjoy this phenomenon.
The government organises Sakura Festival Myanmar in Nay Pyi Taw during this time. Apart from the flowers, the festival showcases fun events and authentic local food – a great way to celebrate this annual event.
Thazin – An orchid, this is a favourite of the locals. The flowers are fragrant and often included flower arrangements. Apart from Myanmar, thazins also grow in Indonesia and Thailand.
Aeschynanthus – This exotic plum-coloured flower grows on an evergreen subtropical plant. The flower is often nicknamed ‘lipstick plant’, mainly because of the striking appearance of its developing bud.
Ingyin – These stunning flowers come in different shades of red – from light red to dark red. They grow in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Frangipani – The beautiful flowers of this plant adorn most parks and streets of Myanmar. Native to Mexico, Central America, Brazil, the Caribbean and South America, frangipani trees can be grown across Myanmar.
Dendrobium lindleyi – These small yellow flowers are a popular bloom in the northern mountainous region of Myanmar. Apart from Myanmar, this species of plant grows in other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Come spring, the country is brightened by the blooms of Dendrobium lindleyi.
Dendrobium bensoniae – This white and yellow orchid flower can be seen in the forests of the country. The large flower with a golden disk and two large purple spots will surely take your breath away.
Orchids of Myanmar – The forests of Myanmar, especially the Himalayan forest, is a treasure trove of orchids. Spotting orchids is one of the main reasons people take hikes through these forests. While walking through the forests, you will find orchids of breathtaking colour combinations on the sides of roads. If you are lucky, you can spot black orchids in the Hkakaborazi National Park in Kachin State.
If you have plans to visit Pyin Oo Lwin, take a trip to the National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, which houses an orchid garden featuring 300 orchid species that can be found in Myanmar. This garden has been created in collaboration with the UK-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International to preserve indigenous species of orchids in their natural habitat.
There is an ongoing search for orchids in various parts of the country and the potential is limitless. In 2017, a China-Myanmar joint field expedition uncovered a new orchid species native to northern Myanmar. Named Coelogyne magnifica, this stunning flower is characterised by pointy white petals and an orange core.
You will be spellbound by the varieties of flowers you can find in Myanmar. A visit to any garden, or simply walking through the streets, will enable you to experience some of the exotic beauty of the country.