Friday, January 9, 2009

Hoya spartioides- One Night Only

While visiting a friend's private garden in Sarawak, I chanced upon an unusual twig-like plant rooted upon a hollow log with Dischidias and live ants all over it. I asked if it has small yellow flowers and he was a bit surprise "How do you know ? Yes they are yellowish orange and tiny, not very pretty...." The grower had collected it from western Sarawak, which appeared to be a new geographical range for this plant, as it was previously recorded only in Sabah and Kalimantan.
The plant in question, is the odd Hoya spartiodes which is sometimes placed in its own genus Absolmsia. This is a rare plant (or perhaps easily overlooked in the field) although it has been described since last decade of 1800s. The green tips are actually the peduncles - the flower stalks ; the rest of the plant do not have chlorophyll - except for an occasional small leaves which are very short-lived. The tiny orange flower clusters open one night only, and has a sharp smell like burning rubber. Seeds of this plant are carried by ants to their nests, usually rotting tree trunks, from which a plant may grow, with its root balls deep within the nest. The ants provide protection and food for the plant. All these are adaptations to dry harsh conditions of its kerangas habitat.
Historical sketch from Hooker's Icon., 1880

Type: Absolmsia spartioides (Benth.) Kuntze (Astrostemma spartioides Benth.).

Ref:
1) Absolmsia Kuntze, Rev. Gen. Pl. 2: 417 (1891).
2) Hooker's Icon. Pl. 13: pl. 1311. 1880
3) Omlor, R. Generische Revision der Marsdenieae (Asclepiadaceae). Diss. Univ. Kaiserslautern 1998.

5 comments:

Hermes said...

Absolutely fascinating - thanks for posting about that.

I likE plants! said...

What a little beauty! I have never seen this species before, I'm sure that is due to it's rarity. I wouldn't mind adding this to my collection. Thanks for sharing.

Claude said...

What an interesting little plant... fascinating how plants adapt to situations.

kakt├╝s said...

That's a fantastic species... I keep looking for it but couldnt find anyone who can trade

Hort Log said...

Kaktus,this plant is not so rare nowadays. Send me an email and I will try to setup something:-)

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