Endangered Plants in the Philippines

Written by jerry garner
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Endangered Plants in the Philippines
The Philippines is home to more than 8,000 species of flora. (Corn plantation in Palanan, Isabela, Philippines image by Antonio Oquias from Fotolia.com)

The Philippine archipelago is a collection of more than 7,100 islands and outlets, located off the southeastern coast of the Asian continent. The Philippine Islands feature more than 8,000 plant species, with 3,500 of those being native to the Philippines and found nowhere else on Earth. There are dozens of plant species that are classified as endangered in the Philippines, some of which are considered as critical, or even being totally dependent upon conservation for survival. Of the endangered species, a few receive special attention because of the circumstances that relate to their survival.

Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis)

Almaciga is a species of tree native to mountainous areas of the Philippines. Almaciga trees were widely used in the construction industry, where the timber was milled into lumber for building houses. The tree was used so extensively that it became in danger of becoming extinct. Government regulations stepped in to prohibit the cutting of Almaciga trees in the Philippines. Other uses for the trees have been discovered by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), which falls under the oversight of the Department of Science and Technology. New technologies have taught residents of the mountain areas how to harvest resin from the Almaciga safely, without harming the health of the tree. This resin is then converted into an all-natural varnish, as well as used as a base for paints.

Waling-Waling (Vanda sanderiana)

Waling-Waling is the Philippine name for Vanda, a rare orchid from the South Pacific. In addition to the Philippines, Vanda can be found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Borneo. In the Philippines the plant is most widely recognised around the base of Mount Apo, the highest peak of the island of Mindanao. Waling-Waling is known as the "Queen of Philippine Orchids." It is appreciated because of the long lasting nature of its floral blooms. Its prestige as a national symbol makes the endangered status of the plant even more urgent.

Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

The Jade Vine is a floral vine unique to the Philippines. Known locally as Tayabak, the plant produces aquamarine-coloured blooms that open into jade-coloured flowers. The flowering vines hang from trees, with the flowers growing in clumps, or bunches, averaging about 90 centimetres in length. The jade-coloured flowers grow to be nearly 8 centimetres in length and resemble the shape of a butterfly with folded wings. The plants attract butterflies, bees, bats, and birds, all of which feed on the flower's nectar and help spread pollen to neighbouring plants. The loss of this plant would mean the loss of a treasure unique to the Philippines.

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