| Jasminum sambac|
Jasminum sambac (syn. Nyctanthes sambac Linn., Jasminum blancoi Hassk.), commonly known as “Sampaguita” or “Arabian jasmine,” is a shrub cultivated throughout the Philippines. It is the country's national flower.
Description and Habitat
This plant is a scandent or suberect shrub, usually 2 meters in height. The leaves are ovate or rounded, glossy in texture, and 6 to 12 cm long, with short stalks, pointed or blunt tip, and pointed or rounded base. Its flowers are white, fragrant, and borne singly or in threes on axillary or terminal inflorescences. Its calyx-teeth are 8-10, very slender, and 5 to 8 mm long. The corolla-tube is slender, about 1 cm long, while the limb is usually double and 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter. The double kind is named “kampupot,” and is less fragrant. Its fruit is a berry, which is simple or didymous, 6 mm in diameter. It turns black when ripe, and is surrounded by the calyx teeth.
Sampaguita is a native of tropical Asia, and is now pantropic in distribution. It propagates through seed dispersion.
Cultivation and uses
Ornamental and cultural
Sampaguita flowers are very popular in the Philippines, where they are strung into necklaces and sold in the streets of Manila. They are usually given to tourists, new graduates, and competition winners either as traditional welcome offerings or as honorary symbols for their achievements. The garlands are also given to saints, whether in churches or altars at home. The flowers are treasured for their distinct fragrance, and are even used in perfumery and tea-making.
The name “sampaguita” is believed to have come from the Filipino words “sumpa kita,” meaning “I promise you.” In early days sampaguita garlands are exchanged by young couples as a pledge of their love, not unlike the exchange of rings in wedding ceremonies.
In the book Medicinal Plants of the Philippines by Eduardo Quisumbing, it is reported that sampaguita flowers have been applied as a poultice to the breasts of women to act as a lactifuge (to stop the secretion of milk). The flowers also yield an essential oil similar to that of jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum).
The roots present several uses. They may be used to treat venereal diseases when given fresh, while a tincture made from them is reported to be used as sedative, anaesthetic, and vulnerary.
The leaves can also be given internally in decoction for fevers. If boiled in oil, they exude a balsam which is used by the natives to alleviate eye complaints. The dried leaves, on the other hand, are soaked in water and made into a poultice, then applied to indolent ulcers.
- PIER (2006). Jasminum sambac. Accessed on October 30, 2007.
- Quisumbing, Eduardo (1978). Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Quezon City: Katha Publishing.