Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cyrtandra splendens- field notes

This large species from the African violet family (Gesneriaceae) is commonly encountered in lowland of Borneo. It has an errect woody stem and whorls of large woolly leaves that may be plain green or in shades of darker hues which is an attraction in itself. However, when a large plant is in flower, its a magnificent sight.

Cyrtandra is a large Malesian genus consisting of 500 species - give and take a hundred - many species are notoriously difficult to differentiate due to them taking on different appearances, a characteristic termed polymorphism by biologists. The genus as a whole is not commonly cultivated as most species are rather plain and the flowers are in shades of white. Cyrtandra, unlike its close relatives Didymocarpus or Henckelia, have indehiscent fruits - ie the fruits do not split open to release the seeds into the wind. In fact, the seeds are likely dispersed by birds as many of them are fleshy and soft.

Local tribesman told me they rub the leaves on game meat like wild boar or civet prior to cooking, as they absorb the heavy oily taste typical of such flesh. They also said this herb can only be gathered in the forest as attempts to cultivate them have failed. This is rather typical - many of these jungle herbs need a highly moist and shady environment to thrive and they can be tricky to grow.
As it so happened, they had a smoked civet paw by the fireside and I was welcomed to try it.

8 comments:

Claude said...

so totally cool...

so, how did the civet paw taste?

WannabeVirginia W. said...

Cyrtandra is a beautiful species. I have not seen that before. Of course, you've opened up a whole new world for me, since I have not seen any of the plants you feature on your blog. Awesome stuff.

Hort Log said...

I could not make it touch my lips ....

Alfred Walter said...

Great post, beautiful pictures.
Keep it up.

r l n ! said...

At first, i was a bit disappointed by seeing just "boring" green leaves. Then as i scrolled down and saw flower after flower, then the profusion at the bottom...i just grinned from ear to ear... Wow!!! Thank you :)

i LOOOOOVE GOD's work in nature, and He never disappoints... and your photos don't either!

And your comment about that BBQ-ed paw...hhahahhhaaa...funny! But i had "sopa de lengua" in Cuzco, Peru -- sheep jaw with 5 teeth intact, big blue/grey tongue, white brain pieces (that i thought were tofu!), carrots and dirt-tasting potatoes. i was so hungry, i ate the carrots and potatoes, but gave the rest to my two orphan tour-guides.

loveable_homebody said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures.

Smileyfreak said...

Brilliant pictures!!

Competition on www.happinessitsjustahabit.com

:)

Graphicemotions said...

Greetings from Italy

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