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Jasminum Sambac - Symbolism, Photos and the Legend of the National Flower of the Philippines

Precy loves to read Filipino legends and sharing them through her Hubpages articles. She also writes about the Filipino language.

Jasminum sambac known as sampaguita is Philippines national flower.

Jasminum sambac known as sampaguita is Philippines national flower.

Arabian Jasmine - Sampaguita

Jasminum sambac or most likely known as Arabian jasmine by many is a shrub, a variety of jasmine that can grow at the height of 9 feet tall if left alone untrimmed. The plant bears green leaves that are ovoid in shape. The plant is not only a good choice for additional greens in the yard but it does well on containers and pots too. And because it is grown for its beautiful white flowers that are exceptionally fragrant, front porch and entry ways are the perfect spot for a potted Arabian jasmine not only to add a touch of green but a perfect way to enjoy the highly sweet-scented flowers.

Other Names Arabian Jasmine is Known for

Different names Arabian jasmine is known for by countries.




melati putih


gaeta pichcha

Sri Lanka



Mo Li Hua








Symbolism and Becoming the National Flower

The sampaguita flower has always been associated as a symbol of love and devotion. Leis made of sampaguita flowers are sold near church entrances specially in Manila and favored as offerrings by both devotees and church goers. The leis are also used in occassions such as graduations, ceremonies and is used to welcome tourists and visitors.

The sampaguita also symbolizes purity and it isn't uncommon for the flowers to be used in wedding arrangements. Stories of courtships aren't uncommon being shared to grandchildren from grandparents giving sampaguita flowers to the woman they love symbolizing sincerity, and of course love.

This evergreen shrub was introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century and its heavenly scented flowers made its way of becoming the national flower of the Philippines in the year 1934 when it was adopted through the Proclamation #652.

Uses of Arabian Jasmine Flowers

Made into leis sometimes with other fragrant flowers such as ylang-ylang

Used as offering or adornment for saints and religious images

Made into essential oils

Used in perfume making


The plant may have been known for its English name Arabian jasmine, but interestingly, this well-loved evergreen shrub isn't a native of Saudi Arabia but of Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas. The common name the plant is known for, Arabian jasmine, was given by a Scottish botanist from the misapprehension that the plant was originally from Arabia. With the name jasmine, it means 'Gift from God' and was derived from Persian Yasmin, where Yasmin is a name used in Persian for a flowering plant.

Growing Arabian Jasmine or Sampaguita

Arabian jasmine loves to be in a sunny spot and flowers profusely throught the warm weather.

Speaking from experience if asked how to grow sampaguita or Arabian jasmine, it is easy. Planting from cuttings in a well drained soil, is the only way to grow this tropical shrub. Water as needed but the cuttings don't need to be soaked. Although Arabian jasmine loves sunny locations, it can tolerate part shade areas too.

Young plant - Arabian jasmine from cuttings.

Young plant - Arabian jasmine from cuttings.

Young sampaguita flowers start as green buds at the base of leaves growing in pairs across one another or at the tip. The buds turn to white as they continue to develop for about a week with each consisting of between seven to ten white, oval-shaped petals once they open. When made into leis, either the young unopened buds are used or the fully opened blossoms in a tight string of flowers. The leis are also made along with ylang-ylang which is another sweet-scented flower found in the Philippines.

Although the sweet scent is recognizable during daytime, the scent are more noticeable at night and can be smelled few feet away from where the shrub is.

A Filipino Legend of Arabian Jasmine

There are two versions about the legend of this sweet-scented flower. While both legends highlight the love between two lovers, according to one legend, the name sampaguita came from the Spanish word 'sumpa kita' which means 'I promise you' while according to the other legend, the name sampaguita came from a maiden who cursed (curse - sumpa) the man she loves believing a lie that she was cheated on and lied to. I will be sharing the first mentioned version of the legend.

During the early times when the lands were ruled by datus, Balintawak and Gagalangin were neighboring towns, seperated only by a sturdy bamboo-made fence. Soldiers of both datus take turn changing the fence every five years.

According to the legend, the datu of Balintawak has a daughter that no one can come second when it comes to her beauty. And since she's the daughter of a ruler, she maybe don't have her mother anymore but she has her own servants assigned to attend to whatever she needs. Young men were head over heels of her beauty but only one man had captured her heart and it was the ruler's son of Gagalangin. Well, that was odd since the two rulers were mortal enemies.

Delfin, the son of the ruler, made a secret passage to one end of the bamboo fence that seperates Gagalangin and Balintawak. The dense, green bushes made the passage perfectly hidden and unnoticed. Whenever the moon shines bright up the evening sky, Delfin crosses the passage to visit his beloved maiden.

One day the fence were being changed by the soldiers of the other datu and it came to the attention of the datu of Balintawak. He sent few of his men to keep an eye on the work, and he found out that the fence were moved 5 feet away from his land. He immediately asked for a message to be sent to the other datu for the fence to be put back to where it used to be. The datu of Gagalangin was furious when he heard the message.

"Tell your ruler I'm not a thief!" was his response. "I just moved the fence back to where it should be according to the writings of my ancestors."

This lead to a war between the two rulers.

Both datus prepared their soldiers for the impending war but days before that, the datu of Gagalangin, father of Delfin, became ill for no reason at all. With this, Delfin was left with the obligation of taking charge for the oncoming war.

This made Rosita worry for the man she loves, compared to his father, Delfin was young and unexperienced in battle. She wanted to warn and convince him to not push through with the battle and that maybe, maybe he could just talk it over with her father. But it was too late. The following day, she saw her father preparing to leave, leading his army.

It was a bloody war. Many died from both sides. And Delfin, being young and unexperienced was badly wounded. With that said, I think you can already guess where the story is heading. Delfin died. But before he took his last breath, he told his soldiers where he wanted his body to rest, by the secret passage he made. When Rosita found out what befell to her beloved Delfin, she couldn't take it. She was heart-broken. Rosita got sick. Her father asked for all the best healers but no one succeeded on restoring her health. Rosita's body weakened and she had one wish to her father, to be put to rest by the far end of the fence, beside her beloved Delfin. Despite his will, the datu obliged as he loves his daughter dearly.

Many years had passed and the Spaniards came to the Philippines. A lot had change. A city was built which is now known as Manila, the country's capital. Many people flocked to the city. But those living in Balintawak and Gagalangin gets troubled at night for something they couldn't quite explain. According to them, every month of May specially when the moon is up the evening sky, those that are residing between Balintawak and Gagalangin hear a strange, soft voice at night of what seems to be coming from a woman. But what's more strange is, there's no one around everytime the residents would stay on guard.

"Sumpa kita! Sumpa kita!" A soft-spoken voice would be heard during the late hours of the night.

There was no one around but hearing the voice, it was coming from the grassy path where two shrubs were growing with small, white flowers luring them with its heavenly scent.

For some reason, the people decided to dig hoping to solve the mystery of the strange plant and the voice that they only hear every month of May. Much to their surprise, the strange shrubs took root from the mouth of the two skulls buried to that part of the land. Only then that the oldsters remembered the story of the unfortunate lovers.

Since then, the story was passed down through generations by word of mouth. From "Sumpa kita!" the two strange plants were named sampaguita which became the national flower of the Philippines.

Translated from the Tagalog Version

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