Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bulbophyllum plumatum - "red chilli"

Bulbophyllum plumatum Ames and Bulbophyllum jacobsonii JJ Smith are believed to be the same species and was originally described from plants in Philippines - it is also found in East Malaysia and Sumatra.

In the late 1990s, plants looking like the one in the photo began to surface in the local market - professional plant collectors claimed they were from freshwater swamps in N. Johore - S. Pahang State in Peninsula Malaysia. They appeared to be superior to the original plants due to longer sepals. As of now, taxonomist believed they are the same species, although having seen both plants flower, they looked very different - the sepals are very long and rugose in the Johore plant. Another similar plant also found in Johore - a yellow flowered form - has been named named as a new species - B. thiurum. Gard. Bull. Sing. 57 (2005)p133-137 as its lateral sepals are only fused at the base while that of plumatum fused over a longer length.

Sadly the coastal swamp forest in this area is being destroyed for oil palm plantation (with the exception of the National Park) - it appears to have an interesting flora and fauna somewhere between the mainland and Indonesia and many unique plants have been described since late 1980s.

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