The recent UW Medicine Asian American and Pacific Islander solidarity email signature celebrates the diverse cultures and communities of Asia and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
“Many AAPI communities’ flowers are very meaningful and loved and convey a positive message,” says Tracy Hirai-Seaton, co-chair of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UW Medical Center. “The signature includes just some of the AAPI groups, but many more are represented by the staff, providers and patients in our communities.”
Learn about the significance of these popular flowers.
China: plum blossom
The plum blossom, called meihua, was designated the national flower of China on July 21, 1964.
The flower is one of the first to bloom, and it grows during the cold and snow of winter. Due to this, the flower symbolizes resilience in the face of adversity.
Japan: cherry blossom
Cherry blossoms, called sakura, are symbolic of spring and renewal. The flowers begin to fall after about two weeks and are often used as a metaphor for the transience of human existence.
In Japan, people will eat and spend time together beneath the cherry blossoms in a tradition called hanami.
Korea: rose of Sharon
The rose of Sharon, called mugunghwa, translates to “eternal blossom that never fades.”
The flower’s prominence dates back to 57 B.C. and it is even mentioned in the Korean national anthem. The flower symbolizes the trials and triumphs the country has faced.
Vietnam and India: lotus
The lotus is the national flower in India and Vietnam. It is also a symbol of Hinduism and Buddhism.
In Vietnam, the flower symbolizes purity, commitment and optimism. The plant is used in cuisine and medicine and has also inspired art and architecture.
In India, the lotus is a sacred flower that is used in traditional medicine and often depicted in mythology and art.
Thailand: golden shower flower
The golden shower flower, or ratchapruek, was named the national flower in 2001. The yellow color is associated with Thai royalty and Buddhism, as well as harmony, unity and glory.
Traditional healers use the tree’s bark, leaves, fruit and flowers for a variety of purposes, including treatment for abdominal pain, skin disease and fever.
Pakistan: jasmine flower
Jasmine flowers are known for their strong fragrance. The flowers can be found throughout Pakistan and represent amiability and peace.
Jasmine flowers are used in several ceremonies, such as weddings and graduations. They are also used commercially in teas, perfumes, soaps and herbal medicines.
The rumduol was named Cambodia’s national flower in 2005.
The flower is often used in perfumes and oil because of its strong scent, and was historically used in lip wax. The flower’s fragrance can be smelled at a distance and is particularly strong in the afternoons and evenings.
Declared the national flower of the Philippines in 1934, the sampaguita are white flowers that droop during the day and bud in the evening.
The flower symbolizes Filipino culture and artistry and is included in songs, art and legends.
Hawaii: yellow hibiscus
The yellow hibiscus was declared the state flower of Hawaii in 1988. It represents old royalty, power and respect.
In addition, each Hawaiian Island has its own official flower or lei material: The lehua ohia for the island of Hawaii; lokelani, or the damask rose, for Maui; Ilima for Oahu; mokihana for Kauai; kukui blossom for Molokai; Kaunaoa for Lanai; pupu shell for Niihau; and hinahina for Kahoolawe.
American Samoa: red torch ginger
The red torch ginger, or teuila, is the American Samoan national flower. The flowers range from light pink to bold red.
The flower is a centerpiece of the Teuila Festival, which was established in 1991, and includes traditional and contemporary dancing along with a flower float parade, tattooing and carving demonstrations, and a pageant.
Tonga: red hibiscus
The red hibiscus is a vibrant flower that is commonly grown in Tonga.
Along with the red hibiscus, another significant Tongan flower is the red-blossomed heilala, which is the national flower of Tonga. This flower is celebrated in Uike Heilala, a contemporary week-long festival and pageant.
The plumeria is a popular and sweet-smelling flower that is common in Micronesia.
The flower is used as a decoration during festivities and it also used to create leis.
Support your colleagues and celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by adding a solidarity icon to your UW Medicine email signature.