National Flower

The Origin

Singapore is a Garden City, rich in greenery and biodiversity. It is thus fitting that the nation is represented by a unique National Flower of its own, the Vanda Miss Joaquim (pronounced Joe-ah-Kim).

In 1981, the then Ministry of Culture formed a national committee to select a representative national flower “as part of an overall effort to foster national pride and identity”. The committee comprised representatives from the Ministry, the then Parks and Recreation Department, Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and the Orchid Society of South East Asia.

The committee deliberated over 40 types of flowers, which included 30 orchids, to find one that is "popularly known, free flowering, colourful and attractive". In the end, the Vanda Miss Joaquim was chosen as the National Flower for its "resilience and year-round blooming quality".

A cross between Vanda hookeriana and Vanda teres, the orchid is named in memory of Miss Agnes Joaquim, who bred the flower in her garden at Tanjong Pagar in 1893. It was recorded as Singapore’s first orchid hybrid and the world’s first Vanda hybrid, and soon became popular all over the world as a cut flower due to its beauty and hardiness.

On 15 April 1981, then Minister for Culture Mr S. Dhanabalan announced the launch of Vanda Miss Joaquim as Singapore’s National Flower. The orchid can be seen growing in the National Orchid Garden, the Botanic Gardens, the Mandai Orchid Gardens and the Vanda Miss Joaquim Park at Tanjong Pagar.

During National Day or other national events, images of Vanda Miss Joaquim can be found on banners, buntings and other decorations. Images of Vanda Miss Joaquim can also be found on currency and postal stamp series. The flower is also used in souvenirs, jewellery and has become a source of inspiration for art, songs, fashion and architecture.

"As the flower most associated with hybrids, the orchid is also a symbol of our multicultural heritage. It is representative of the harmony among our ethnic communities, as well as with our many foreign visitors."

Quote taken from a speech by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, at the Singapore Orchid Show, 2006.

Guidelines on use of the National Flower

The National Flower of Singapore is recognised as a National Symbol under the National Symbols Act 2022 which came into effect on 1 August 2023. This symbol is not governed by any guidelines but should still be treated with respect.

Miss Agnes Joaquim
- A Second Generation Singapore-born Armenian

Miss Agnes Joaquim was born on 7 April 1854 to Parsick Joaquim and Urelia Zechariah, who were members of Singapore’s small but influential Armenian community. She lived in a large house on Narcis Street off Tanjong Pagar Road with an extensive garden. She was a skilled embroiderer and a keen and very successful horticulturist with over 70 awards from annual Flower Shows. Her artistic skills also garnered her awards for floral arrangements.

Agnes Joaquim (1854 - 1899)

Her breeding of a new Vanda orchid in her garden in 1893 was confirmed by Mr Henry Ridley, then Director of the Botanic Gardens, as a new hybrid unknown to science. According to known information by the Royal Horticultural Society, Agnes Joaquim is believed to be the first woman in the world to have created a hybrid. Unfortunately, Miss Joaquim died six years after this event, aged 45, and could not enjoy the widespread popularity of the orchid named after her. Her tombstone is found in the memorial garden in the Armenian Church, the oldest Christian church in Singapore.

2018 marked the 125th anniversary of the creation of the National Flower.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need to seek for permission to use the National Flower in my graphic designs, artistic works, etc.?

    No. Individuals and organisations do not need to seek for permission to use the National Flower.

  2. I am from an advertising/ design agency and would like to use the National Flower as part of my graphic design on print advertisements, publicity materials, etc. Can I do so?

    Yes. There are no guidelines that regulate the use of the National Flower.

  3. I would like to use the National Flower as part of my product design which will be sold commercially. Can I do so?

    Yes. There are no guidelines that regulate the use of the National Flower.