Monday, September 24, 2007

New species of PNG orchids

Some new species and some old favourites from Papua New Guinea

See BBC link

Ever wondered why, then, are so few people going there ? Safety is a main concern for casual visitors. Crime rate is high in the capital and rural folks have their own rules .... as testified by a couple of people I spoke to who went there. One group was pursued by armed villagers for reasons note known to them and another was detained in a hut for 2 days for trespassing. They escaped unscathed but its not a welcome any visitor would relish. Reading "Islands of the Clouds" by Isabella Tree, I got a glimpse of the problems - the 1000 or so tribes and more than 600 languages present a major problem for standardisation and integration - and a brewing pot for distrusts since the beginning of time. In fact in a recent BBC coverage heard over the radio, the army chief was immensely confident that unlike many African countries, a military coup in his country is impossible due to its heterogeniety. And then of course there is this familiar problem of displaced indigenous people, who left their land and got lost in the city.... any way I am digressing....

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Martyr for Asian botany

"(C.B.) Robinson* was collecting plants which were described by Rumphius in Ambon for a taxononomic revision. At the same time he was collecting in a certain locale several misfortunes befell the local inhabitants and they attributed their bad luck to a red (or red headed) demon in the forest. When Robinson (who was red headed) walked out of the forest, the natives became alarmed and suspicious. Robinson who must have been hungry or thirsty asked for a coconut to be cut for him....instead of asking for a kelapa (coconut) to be cut, he said "kepala" (head). The natives did just that and C.B. Robinson joined the ranks of many martyrs who gave their life for science."

*Charles Budd Robinson, Canadian botanist, murdered on 5 Dec 1913.
From Joseph Arditti, Malayan Orchid Review V23/89

Hoya endauensis

A dimunitive and slow growing plant with Dischidia-like leaves.

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