What is Fiji’s national flower?
Fiji’s national flower is Tagimoucia. The Tagimoucia, Fiji’s floral emblem, is a signature of a rarity for a number of reasons. Unlike the Bua (frangipani), this flower is as delicate as it is rare. The Tagimoucia, in its red and white colouring, is only found on the island of Taveuni, Fiji’s third-largest island.
A tragic love story
Pronounced, tah-ngee-mow-thee-ah, indigenous folklore about the Tagimoucia varies according to whomever you ask, but what is clear is the tragic end to a forbidden love story.
A Raluve (princess) in Taveuni loved an ordinary man, but her father had promised her to another. The young man was killed or disappeared under the orders of the princess’ father, the chief. The princess, distraught, went searching the coasts and ended up in the mountains. Forlorn, she sat or most probably cried herself to sleep. Her tears poured into the pools formed from the imprints of her heels, now known as lake Tagimoucia and formed Tagimoucia flowers, or perhaps she turned into a Tagimoucia flower. Tagimoucia in Fijian means to cry (tagi) yourself (mo *implying particles – to do/should do something) to sleep or cry for the one who sleeps.
The story is blurred between versions but ‘love and loss’ seems to be a recurring theme for all of these stories.
As romantic as this indigenous folklore is, the island’s topography plays an important role in the growth and survival of the Tagimoucia flower, scientifically classified as Medinilla waterhousei. It has been found that this flower survives in high altitudes at about 600 metres or more, above sea level. Accommodating soil may also result from its host being a volcanic island, after all, the Tagimoucia Lake is located on a volcanic crater.
The Tagimoucia – a dainty and peculiar flower
The Tagimoucia is rare for one. It is endemic to the Fiji Islands and can only be found in Fiji. There is rumoured to be other species of the plant scattered across Fiji, such as a variety of endemic plant species on Mt. Seatura in the province of Bua.
Where can you see the Tagimoucia, Fiji’s national flower?
A white variety of the flower without the crimson outing can also be found in the village of Matasawalevu on the Southern island of Kadavu. The villagers claim they have close ancestral links to the province of Cakaudrove, of which the island of Taveuni is located. The icavuti (traditional kin-group title) of the people of Matasawalevu is “Na Tui Taveu”- the king of Taveu, which sounds and feels like an incomplete wording of the word Taveuni. The presence of the Tagimoucia flower in the mountains of Matasawalevu just further affirms this notion of their ancestral links to the northern province of Cakaudrove.
Third, out of 193 species scattered across Africa, South Asia and the Pacific, 11 can only be found in Fiji. The flower is delicate because of its tiny thumb-like size, and its liana vine is neither invasive nor parasitic, only holding on for necessary support. On account of this, the Tagimoucia becomes vulnerable to being ousted by invasive plant species.
Since Taveuni is another domestic flight or two boat rides away, depending on whatever mode of transport you’re on in Fiji, including the fact that you’d hike into the forests of Uluiqalau for a chance sighting of this rare flower. For the closest look at Fiji’s floral emblem, look no further than our $50 dollar note, which displays it perfectly.
you need in Fiji.