Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stripey lipsticks from Borneo

I obtained this unique lipstick vine from Borneo a few years ago - a cutting from a friend. The short flower with stripped corolla coupled with the shallow dish shaped fused sepals is quite eye catching. It is reported to be common on palm plantations in Sarawak but I have only seen it once growing at a depleted forest. I did witness an impressive display of mass flowering at a private garden, where a dense carpet of this vine cover a trellis over a 3 metre square area sprouting multitudes of red dots along their lengths. There are 2 forms shown here, one with pink and the other with red sepal. Despite its uniqueness, I could only pin it down to be Aeschynanthus tricolor recently The reason is that there is another similar species from Borneo - Aeschynanthus hians. I found Anthony Lamb's article in GardenWise showing rather blurred photographs of both species but all it said was that the difference was in the calyx. I only understood what he meant when I eventually found this curious stripped flowered Aeschynanthus with larger flaring calyx. This would be the A. hians, which is a rarer species confined to northern Sarawak. From these pictures one can see the difference lie in the larger, widely serrated calyx - the flower is similarly stripped.

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