Ixora is the genus of a very popular plant which is commonly called santan. Santan is widespread cultivated as a landscape and garden plant. Flower colors would range from crimson red, yellow, orange to cream and pure white. Though we have our native varieties, none of these garden-popular santans are proudly Philippine native. The white variety is I. finlaysoniana, a Thai species. The red are either I. coccinea or I. javanica, respectively from China and Indonesia. Which makes you wonder why we have to look outside of our backyard just to find flowers for our gardens.
I was told that we have quite a number of Ixora species in our own Philippine forests. Some of them are quite attractive and worthy as garden specimens. We have just not discovered the potentials of these plants and harness them as our Asian neighbors did. So far I have seen 2 native species, Ixoras philippinensis and palawanensis.
Ixora philippinensis or kamingi is found in the remaining wooded areas of central and southern Luzon. It is a relatively bushy plant with the familiar santan flower umbels. The flower color is white which may not exactly be the most striking. But a flowering specimen is still very much worth a gardener's effort. The more attractive species is the Palawan santan, or Ixora palawanensis. It is endemic to a few islands of Palawan. The plant has remarkably delicate leaves and an unusual santan flower color, peach.
The peach colored Palawan santan picture is courtesy of Macy Anonuevo.