The 'majestic' Singapore orchid named in honor of Queen Elizabeth

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 13 2022 04:54 PM

In this photo taken on Sept. 12, 2022, Whang Lay Keng, curator at Singapore's National Orchid Garden, looks at the Dendrobium Elizabeth orchid plant, named after the late British queen Elizabeth II, at the National Orchid Garden in Singapore. Elizabeth is majestic, hardy and 'very fashionable', said a top Singapore flower curator -- referring not to the late monarch, but to an orchid named after the queen when she visited the former British colony. Roslan Rahman, AFP 
In this photo taken on Sept. 12, 2022, Whang Lay Keng, curator at Singapore's National Orchid Garden, looks at the Dendrobium Elizabeth orchid plant, named after the late British queen Elizabeth II, at the National Orchid Garden in Singapore. Elizabeth is majestic, hardy and "very fashionable", said a top Singapore flower curator -- referring not to the late monarch, but to an orchid named after the queen when she visited the former British colony. Roslan Rahman, AFP 

 
SINGAPORE — Elizabeth is majestic, hardy and "very fashionable", said a top Singapore flower curator -- referring not to the late monarch, but to an orchid named after the queen when she visited the former British colony.

After Queen Elizabeth II's death last week, the city-state's Botanic Gardens loaned a towering sprig of Dendrobium Elizabeth to the British high commissioner's residence, to be displayed alongside pictures of the monarch.

The orchid hybrid, with twisted Dresden-yellow petals and a uranium-green lip, was named in honor of the queen when she visited Singapore in 1972, said Whang Lay Keng, curator at Singapore's National Orchid Garden.

"Dendrobium Elizabeth is a majestic, robust and resilient plant," she told AFP.

"It's kind of like how Queen Elizabeth carried herself."

Flowering just twice a year, the Dendrobium Elizabeth was bred from orchids originating from Singapore and Papua New Guinea, and carries just about 40 blooms per plant. 

Orchid-mad Singapore boasts the delicate, colorful blooms as their national flower, and the city-state often christens new hybrids after visiting dignitaries as part of its diplomatic charm offensive. 

The tradition took root in 1957 during British colonial rule -- which spanned more than 140 years -- when an orchid variety was named after the wife of London's high commissioner to Singapore at the time. 

Queen Elizabeth first made a state visit to Singapore in 1972, followed by 2 more trips in 1989 and 2006.

"During the 1970s, the color yellow-green was very popular, so naturally we wanted to select something that was fashionable and very interesting," Whang said, adding that "yellow is a color of royalty".

But the tropical lowland orchid also has very distinct Southeast Asian traits.

It is a "sun-loving plant that thrives in a moist and humid climate, where sunlight and warmth are important for its growth", the orchid curator said. 

Among the more than 200 orchid hybrids named after visiting leaders and celebrities -- displayed in the VIP section of the city's sprawling Botanic Gardens -- there is also the Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana. The pastel-white bloom was so dubbed after the death of the princess of Wales.

© Agence France-Presse 

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