Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Break free from the murk ....

....wish I could.

Caught the usually night flowering Nymphaea lotus during an unusually hot morning.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Henckelia quinquevulnera

A very nice and distinctive shrubby gesneriad endemic to Peninsula Malaysia. Found large population of this delightful plant along a remote stream along the highland in Pahang. There were lots of herbs, ferns, Bulbophyllum virescens and flowering climbers at this botanical paradise. We lost track of time photographing them and were almost left behind by the rest of the gang who had started their travel down the foothill ....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hoya waymaniae - Miss Wayman's Hoya

This distinctive Hoya was first described by the Dr Dale Kloppenburg in 1995 and named after Ann Wayman, a Hoya grower well known in the circle. This is an endemic from Borneo and was reported to be growing in deep shade. I found this plant growing on the adventitious roots of a Grametophyllum orchid at a clearing just beside the dense forest. Such roots are found in some epiphytic orchids to trap debris and leaf litter which nourishes it. No doubt the Hoya found this nourishing as well.
It is temperament plant and many of my plants have come and gone.

Friday, April 17, 2009


While trekking into the forest, we met an elderly Bidayuh couple walking in the reverse direction. The man, who posed gallantly for the camera, was carrying some freshly collected rattan. His hands were bruised and scarred, for the sharp curved thorns of the rattan (or Rotan in Malay), are a bane to collectors and jungle trekkers alike. Getting oneself out of a tangle of backward pointing spines that lashed and latched onto the skin and fabric reqired some co-ordination which may not come naturally after hours of trekking.

Rattan is a group of weak scrambling palms which rely on hooks on elongated leaf tips to cling onto branches and tree trunks. There are about 13 genuses of up to a hundred plus species in all. The stems became long and flexible, since they no longer bear the weight, and the internode elongate at great speed. In fact, the longest stem of a climbing plant was recorded for a Calamus manan, reported by Forestry Department of Malaysa as 556 feet ; Corner had reported that there was an even longer plant, but it was torn to bits by an elephant before it could be measured. Apparently, disdain for this plant is quite universal.
This is from the peeled bark of a fallen branch...vicious isn't it ? Even in modern times, in this part of the world, we can still purchase fine smoothened rattan cane for less than a dollar to punish kids who had erred. A little whip on the open palm brings instantaneous submission, very effective ! Kids from the West really had it good....

The fast growing and flexible nature of the stem has made it a popular material in natives crafts and baskets. More recently, the West has also discovered its usefullness in lightweight hall and patio furniture which I believe is more ecologically sustainable than hardwood, since they grow like weeds.

If only we can breed a plant without the thorns ....

Ref E.J.HF Corner, The Natural History of Palms

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cirrhopetalum fan

Cirrhopetalum auratum - is a small orchid from SE Asia's rain forest, sometimes placed as a section in the large genus Bulbophyllum in which case it would be called B. auratum.

A very interesting feature of the live flowers is that their lips are all hinged and movable and will nod at the slightest vibration - its a very animated inflorescence. Supposedly, it produces alot of sweet nectar, so much, in fact, that small insects may drown in their quest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A New species of Nepenthes

ALASTAIR S. ROBINSON et al has discovered a new highland species from the Phillippines. They have named it after Sir David Attenborough, who is incidentally, one of my favourite TV icon and naturalist. Needless to say , N. attenboroughii is rare and highly endangered, and probably even more so now that its habitat has been published ....

Photo from
A spectacular new species of Nepenthes L. (Nepenthaceae) pitcher plant from central Palawan, Philippines
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume 159 Issue 2, Pages 195 - 202

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Thai Kaempferia

This is another ground hugging ginger from Thailand similar to K.marginata posted previously but with simple 4 petalled white flower. The flower is very similar to K. pulchra except that its pure white instead of pale purple. In addition, the plant has very dark flattened leaves while pulchra has conventional errect leaves. My guess is that its a form of Kaempferia roscoeana .... can anyone advise ?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Enroute to GNYOS

....just a few steps out of cavernous Grand Central, I felt that Spring arrived earlier here in Manhattan compared to where I stayed up north...perhaps it was because of these impressive flower displays. I had travelled here for the Greater New York Orchid Show. Due maybe to anticipation, or the crisp air - I had a little spring at my heels as well.
I was still holding the foam cup of nescafe from a pushcart man, an immigrant from Latin America. For about a dollar, it was almost Singapore price. After turning a corner, I reached Rockafella Centre, and was greeted by this display of white and blue. The Hyacinth perfume was overwhelming and did not go too well with my coffee, which had turned cold very quickly....
I glanced down the foyer - just 3 months ago, it was an ice skating ring full of revellers. Now stands of exotic blooming plants were everywhere. I was looking forward to this after going through a cold white winter....actually it was my first cold white winter.
The bliss of a foreign Spring contained within the glass.

Notes of a trip to Greater New York Orchid Show (or GNYOS) I made a few years back while staying in Upstate NY. Sadly, this year, perhaps due to the economic turmoil, the show has been postponed indefinitely ....

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