Thursday, March 26, 2015

Didymoplexiella ornata - the hidden orchid.

It was the onset of rainy season in November and these tiny leafless orchids were blossoming in the dark damp forest floor.   They were not easy to spot but apparently they were so abundant that once we spotted the first and had our senses trained, the rest seemed to emerge miraculously - the pale flower appearing like beacon from the sea of brown leaf litter. 

 

It is not an easy plant to find - not because its rare but because being leafless and unable to perform photosynthesis, the plant exists only as a subterranean tuber most of the time. One can only be certain of its whereabout when it flowers. It derived its nutrients from a network of fungal mycelia which surround and infiltrate the tuber. In turn, the fungi obtained nutrients by breaking down organic matter at the leaf litter.  This mode of parasitic relationship with the fungi is known as myco-heterotrophy.

There are 8 species in  this genus but Didymoplexiella ornata is the only species found in Malaysia and Singapore.

As you can see in the closeups, there are a couple of "spurs" flanking the column and this differentiate this genus from the closely related but more elusive Didymoplexis which is also found in this region.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cup fungus Cookeina

We came across this small colourful fungus a few times in the forests, always in very damp wood or logs. According to R.N. Weinstein, there are 7 species of Cookeina distributed in subtropical and tropical regions worldwide although a couple more have been since his paper in 2002.

This particular one, a dream for photographers, appeared to be C. sulcipes and is widely distributed in tropical Americas, Africa and Asia. It is an edible species and efforts are made to farm them as we speak. The spores are located inside the "cups" - or apothecium for purists - and are released in one go upon maturity. Someone actually counted that 3-24 million spores are released each time from an apothecium !


The colour can be variable - we found a paler variety shown below in Johore.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Things that go bumped in the jungle night ....


Shriveled and holey;  everything has an expiry date .... this one way passed ....

....and this rather prematurely .... overpowered by fungus. Yes, it used to be a living creature although it does not look like it - we will see a living specimen soon ....


....the translucent long-legged beasty on a high wire

.... a predator no less, despite its 3cm frame


... a burly bouncer sprang from its subterranean lair. This one really looked the part ....

This a a real find, believed to be the Singapore Bent-toe gecko Cyrtodactylus majulah first described in 2012. 

A small Phasmid.
The jungle cousin of our domestic pest.

The nymph of the Flatidae plant hopper - a live one this time.

A colony of the quivering nymphs.

The curious bloom of Pterisanthes - a grape relative.
 ......  now to bed, and sweet dreams

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bulbophyllum sinapsis

A rather uncommon orchid from the paradise of PNG. This is a slow growing one which is vegetatively rather similar to the related B. micranthum. The bloom, as you can see,  is such a work of art. 


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