Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Limestone gingers

These are some gingers that we encounter not infrequently while venturing into the limestone areas in N Malaysia and S. Thailand....  

First of these is the Kaempferia - small, neat and very horticultural species suitable for pot culture. I have already mentioned other members eg K.  purpurataK. roscoena and K. marginata in previous postings. As a matter of fact, finding K. pulchra is a rather safe bet amongst limestone in this region. This plant sometimes form a dense carpet at the base of the cliff where the humidity is relatively high and light level low, often flowering gregariously during the wet season. 

Another very similar species is Kaempferia elegans, which has similar short-lived lilac flower and which differs with its more rounded and more intensely variegated leaves. We found this very interesting specimen pressed flatly against a vertical wall. Some taxonomists actually believed it is just a variant of the previous species - I would not argue with that but horticulturally this is a distinct and more attractive plant.

Another ginger which caught our eyes is this aberrant Boesenbergia curtisii, which, like B. pliacata and B. siamensis, is confined to limestone habitat.

Most local Boesenbergias have rather similar unattractive flowers but the flared orchid-like bloom of this species is instantly recognisable

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