Bidens have orchid named after them in Singapore

SINGAPORE - US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill received a customary Singapore honour Friday - an orchid named after them - as they paid an official visit to the tropical city state.

Singapore has long used orchid naming to recognise international leaders, with high-profile political figures including Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher having blossoms at Singapore's National Orchid Garden.

The Bidens were feted at a ceremony at the 63-hectare (155 acre) garden, where a new hybrid orchid, Dendrobium Joe and Jill Biden, was named in their honour.

The vice president signed a symbolic "birth certificate" officially naming the orchid, one of many new varieties constantly being developed in Singapore.

"Mr. Prime Minister, never did I think in my wildest dreams that I would have an orchid named after me and my wife," a smiling Biden told Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong.

"That was beyond any expectations I ever had as a child or an an adult."

VIP orchid-naming first took root in 1957 during British colonial rule when a variety was named after Anne Black, the wife of London's high commissioner to Singapore.

Singapore is a leading exporter of orchids and its national flower is an indigenous violet-hued variety called the Vanda "Miss Joaquim".