Sunday, January 29, 2012

A sample of terrestrial Borneo Gesneriads

A mix bag of the ground herbs from the African Violet Family encountered during a couple of trips in Sarawak..... posting here in the hope of getting them identified.

This smallish herb with Henckelia-like habit appeared to be from genus Hexatheca, maybe H. fulva. It was found on shady ledges at the bottom of a limestone hill in West Sarawak.

Found on the same limestone hill as the previous species but on highly exposed high grounds subjected to dry winds and direct sun is this Paraboea with silvery felty leaves. It reminds me of Sinningia leucotricha commonly found in gesneriad collections and utilised the same strategy to reflect sun rays and heat from the leaf surface.

Borneo is very rich in Cyrtandra species and this is one of them - but exactly what species I do not know. The leaves are glabrous and quite succulent. It is also confined to limestone.

This last species is probably most horticulturally interesting, with its shiny variegated leaves - and tidy size (less than one foot tall). I had initially thought it was some kind of Scorpion's tail (genus Pentaphragma) but closer inspection showed Cyrtandra-like bloom between the leaves. Unfortunately the habitat which I had found it had been destroyed and had not seen it anywhere else. Unlike the other species, it inhabits sandstone embarkments by the side of the forest.

If readers can ID any of the plants please share it here.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some bulbous Aroids in limestone areas of S Thailand

The countryside of Southern Thailand is peppered with limestone karsts like these. These fast draining and seasonal (wet/dry) habitat harbours many bulbous plants, especially aroids, many of which are dormant some time of the year.

This is a Typhonium, a smallish herb frequently used in traditional medicine. This species has very small pointy inflorescence at the bottom left of the picture.

A Pseudodrancontium growing on pockets of humus at the base of the hill.

It has been subsumed into genus Amorphophallus but the vegetative appearance is quite distinct.
As it was the rainy season, Amorphophallus excentricus were flowering in many places. This couple was beside a stream, by the side of a tall mountain.

This one was found at the foot of the limestone hill.

....and this one at the side of a cliff.

Carrion beetles at the spadix.

An unidentified Amorphophallus at the foot of the limestone hill.

This looked like a Amorphophallus haematospadix growing at the same place as the previous species.

According to Peter Boyce, this drab looking plant is a yet to be named Alocasia. It had been known from Surat Thani for some time but was not name since the flowers had never been observed. I have also seen them in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Krabi.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nepenthes robcantleyi - yet another species nova

The past 2-3 years have seen a surge in discoveries of new Nepenthes species in this region, particularly in the highlands of Phillippines, which is turning out to be a bubbling hot spot. Examples include N. gantungensis, N. hamiguitanensis, N. leonardoi and N. palawanensis and N. attenboroughii previously mentioned here.

The newest addition to the list is Nepenthes robcantleyi , which incidentally was known in the trade for some time and in fact was already rather famous prior to its formal describtion, being featured in horticulture shows like that in Chelsea and Singapore - albeit as "Black truncata".

2 forms were on display during the recent show here, a red form ....

...... and a darker form, which was how the name "Black truncata" came about.

It was previously believed to be a highland form of the N. truncata (shown below), differing in the wider peristome (the wings at the rim of the pitchers). However, the paper also stated several differences .... if you are keen take a look at Fran├žois 's interesting entry.

This new species was confined to a mountain in Mindanao, and is feared extinct in the wild as its habitat had been destroyed - such a scenario is so prevalent its a cliche to mention it nowadays.

Its closest relative is Nepenthes veitchii shown below, a more wide-ranging species from Borneo, although the pitchers are much smaller. Too close if you ask me.

Ref: Nepenthes robcantleyi sp. nov. (Nepenthaceae) from Mindanao, Philippines, Nordic J. Bot. 29: 2 (1-5; fig.). 2011

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Early bloomer

First bloom for the new year, and a haiku to celebrate it .....

willowy silhouette, you
remind me of a Cephalopod
smells like one too

Well, you know I'll never make it as a poet- but its true that this flower really smelled bad - if you stick your nose too close tears will ooze from your eyes. It also has the largest flower in the genus.
Here's a full frontal....
Bulbophyllum echinolabium, a native of lower montane forests of Sulawesi.

Note: discovered Picassa had been excessively compressing my pics for some time now, just found a fix for it.

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