Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reach for the sky

A rain tree just outside the ground of my old primary school, which no longer exist. An unglamorous school in a forgotten corner perhaps, but it had lifted us closer to the light.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fantastic lip !

At the ridge near the top of a lonely hill, we found a population of Flickingeria fimbriata. Previously I had only encountered this orchid beside rivers and streams so I was abit surprise it was at such a dry habitat.

The flower, borne at the base of the leaf, always bring a smile. Its lips reminds me of a trapped frog with both legs protruding out ....

.... too bad,it lasts only 1 day or less, which also explains why this plant is not in the trade, despite being fairly common.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The gouty Impatiens

In his wonderful book 'Malayan Wild Flowers', Murray Ross Henderson described Impatiens mirabilis as 'Gouty Impatiens' - a name which is not commonly used nowadays. Its appearance is certainly unlike the flowering potted variety we are used to. This is a plant of tree-like proportion and has a corky caudex which no doubt helps it to survive the seasonal dryness this habitat brings. It is found in the limestone karsts of Northern Peninsula Malaysia and Thailand.

Actually there are quite a few caudiciform species of Impatiens in this part of the world - see, for example, my previous entries here and here. Most, if not all, inhabit limestone karsts and have spindle-shaped bloom instead of the pansy-faced flowers we see in the garden centres. The presence of the quaint 'tail' distinguish them from other families of plants.

The true I. mirabilis have a long rachis from which only 1 or 2 flowers are borne at any one time. The colour may be yellow or pink - both appears to be variants of the same species. The flower always attract ants, which in turn attract geckos waiting for an easy snack.

Being highly specialised, these are not easy plants to grow and flower. Plants are often lost from foot rot but they do not seem to like dryness also. In their native habitat, they send out fine roots into subterranean crevices though the plant itself may be exposed to the elements.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Gesnid limestone specialist

A rather interesting Paraboea from the steep limestone karst of Southern Thailand.

The rosette of hirsute leaves is vegetatively similar to the one I had previously posted except that the flowers are larger and the cymes are less branched.

Paraboeas are specialised limestone plants that are fully adapted to the free draining substrate and bright light. Some of them can be tree-like but generally they are small to mid size plants. They are closely related to Boea, both having hairy leaves but differing in the hairs being simple for Boea and cobweb-like in Paraboea. As a general guide, those that has white or silvery reflective leaves grow in the most exposed places while those with green leaves require some shade. As you can see from the next 2 photos, they have resurrection abilities - tolerating extreme drought by rolling up the leaves and shrivelling and reviving once water becomes available again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The black pitcher - Nepenthes ramispina

This is one of the species of pitcher plants endemic to Peninsula Malaysia and is most closely related to N. gracillima and the white pitcher N. alba. While the latter 2 are confined to the Gunung Tahan mountain, this species is widespread across the central Titiwangsa range at altitude above 1000m.

The species is most recognisable by its striking pitcher which is black to dark purplish grey on the outside (including the periostome) and a contrasting pale green on the inside. The shape is also distinguishable, being elongated with a distinct "hip" at the midway. According to literature the pitcher can be 20cm long but only those one third the reported size were sighted.

Not far away, we found an aberrant specimen which had a mottled pitcher. I believe this is a natural hybrid Nepenthes ramispina x macfarlanei ....

...its other parent, N. macfarlanei, was also found on the same locality. It has a squat pitcher that flare at the top and a nice fleckled pattern - a trait which was passed down to the hybrid. You can see my previous entry of this plant here.

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