Friday, December 30, 2011

A fallowed ground

.... time to send off another year of the usual economic crisis, natural disasters and East Asian assets bubble, sprinkled with a little nuclear scare. Some may point out bits of notable bright sparks, namely - the obliteration of some seriously undesirable characters, crumbling of tyrannical regimes, scientific break-throughs and revitilisation of Liverpool Football Club.

Anyway, it had not been my most productive period and I am glad to see the back of it. Now, if I can only find the "Reset" button ....

Winter in highland terraced rice field of Lao Cai, Northern Vietnam, where duration of rice growing season is roughly half of that in the lowland due to the cold climate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Male bloom of Balanophora fungosa ssp. indica

Balanophora is an interesting but obscure genus of flowering plants consisiting of no more than 20 species of root parasites distributed in the tropical old world. This particular species is widespread from SE India to SE Asia and Australia and may in fact be more commonly reported if not for the fact that it is not visible unless in flower. Its vegetative part consist of subterranean tubers with hausterias attaching to its hosts from which it derived its nourishment. Unlike Rafflesias, it is not very picky with hosts - large lianas and trees from Fabaceae (Pea family), Figs, Ilex (Holly), Cissus (from grape family) and Syzygium (Myrtle family) are known targets.

This plant has 2 subspecies, ssp. fungosa has male and female flowers on the same inflorescence while the one pictured here, ssp. indica, bears only flower of either sex but not both.

The confounding thing about botany terminology is that it then goes to classify the unisex plant as "dioecious" while the plant with both sexes is "monoecious". Hmmmm...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ssssnuggled at the comfort zone ....

....coiled below a tree trunk, the nocturnal Trimeresurus venustus barely blinked as it allowed its image to be frozen amongst multitude of flashes. This small pit viper is endemic to Southern Thailand and closely resembled the Trimeresurus kanburiensis, the Kanburi pit viper.
...... chanced upon this critter during a climb up a vertical limestone cliff in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Throwing caution to the wind, we fired indiscrimately ....

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