RP Hoya highly-promising, highly-priced ornamental plant in markets, UPLB scientists say PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 14:07

LOS BANOS, Laguna – The Philippine Hoya can be a tough contender in the event a search for the next national flower is launched, scientists at the University of the Philippines here said on Friday.

UPLB scientists said the Philippine Hoya is an endemic and indigenous plant that can symbolize the country’s ethnicity. Its blooms resemble a view from a kaleidoscope that represent both the ecological diversity and cultural richness of the Philippines.

Philippine Hoyas are highly promising and highly-priced ornamental plants in the export market because of its traits, and buying and selling of its cuttings are widespread in the Internet, they added.

At present, the top five most expensive Hoyas in the world market are native to the Philippines. These are Hoya imperialis (P75 per plant), Hoya paziae (P20 per plant), Hoya bicolor, Hoya buotii, and Hoya siariae (all at P25 per plant), scientists said.

The UPLB said enthusiasts pay higher prices for Hoyas that are new and rare, and difficult to grow, variegated, and are superior and novel hybrids.

Hoyas can survive with very little supervision and in changing environments. Its trait is similar to the resilience of the Filipino people amid all the social problems confronting the country today, according to Dr. Simeona Siar, a researcher at the Institute of Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture and Arts and Sciences (IBP-CA-CSC).

Dr. Siar said Hoya is popularly known as wax plant, wax vine, porcelain flower, or gap plant. It is gaining popularity among plant collectors because of its unique and exquisite form and texture.

Hoya also has a wide range of species with multi-colored blooms, and is considered as one of the most horticulturally interesting and highly-promising ornamental plants, she said.

Hoya belongs to the Apocynaceae family, a tropical climbing plant native to Australia, Polynesia, South Pacific Islands, some parts of India, China, and Southeast Asia, Dr. Siar said.

Hoyas are climbing vines or shrubs growing one to 10 meters high, have simple opposite leaves that are typically succulent and freckled with irregularly small silvery spots that produce a cluster of flowers, each flower thick, waxy, and scented, she added.

Dr. Siar said the Philippines has a rich diversity of Hoya species with 71 named and described so far. Most of them can be found in both the highest mountain peaks and in low elevation such as in sea shores and mangrove forests.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Siar started her advocacy to discover and develop ornamental plants that are endemic in and indigenous to the Philippines, adding that most of the Hoyas being sold in the world market today have Philippine origin.

She said Philippine Hoyas are exotically and uniquely exquisite, and most of them are of export quality and can rival other ornamental plants. Some of them are prized possessions among plant collectors, such as the Hoya pubicalyx Merrill, Hoya mindorensis Schlechter, Hoya imperialis Lindley, and Hoya paziae Kloppenburg. The Hoya mindorensis Schlechter, for instance, is considered as the most beautiful among the red Hoyas, while Hoya pubicalyx Merrill is a favorite among the Hoya enthusiasts for its nice foliage and flowers.

This year alone, Dr. Siar has discovered 14 species of Hoyas and one of them, Hoya siariae, is named after her. Of the 14 species, four are new and were featured in a recent issue of the Asia Life Sciences Journal such as Hoya aurantiaca, Hoya lucardenasiana, Hoya landgrantensis, and Hoya soligamiana.

Dr. Siar said Hoyas can be grown easily and are neglect-proof. The plant has very minimal requirements such as a well-drained soil, enough sunlight, and lots of humidity. Hoyas can be propagated through stem cuttings, root cuttings, leaf cuttings, and seeds. Some species of Hoya can survive in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, she said.

But there are still many undiscovered and unidentified species in the wild and more exploration trips are being conducted in the various regions of the country, including studying Hoya’s medicinal properties.

Another prospect for the Hoyas is the development of new varieties that are vigorous, disease-resistant, and have better form, Dr. Siar added.

The UPLB scientist has encouraged Hoya growers to breed new varieties and come up with those that have better color, leaf shape, and texture.

Dr. Siar challenged everyone to act now and capitalize on the popularity of Hoyas. Every Filipino should benefit from the country’s genetic resources and diversity, she said.

By FRANCIS M. BILOWAN