Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Strange spiky fungi deep in the primary forest.
Any ID ?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Some Southern Thailand Begonias

These Begonias from S. Thailand - Malaysian region have nicely patterned leaves but each species are also quite variable. Most of them are Begonia diversifolia or something similar - this photo was taken at my nursery.

This is likely a form of Begonia integrifolia growing at the rubber estate at the edge of a limestone hill.

Plain leaf form

This is another Begonia, a true lithophyte on limestones  - no idea what it could be though.

These plants will go completely dormant during drier months and wake up again once the rain starts falling. They are a bit tricky to grow as you need to drastically reduce watering when they go dormant or you may lose the whole lot.

Friday, July 31, 2015

An Impatiens from Borneo

We had just climbed down from a limestone hill when we saw this herbaceous species at a clearing. Pretty sure it was not a garden escape but no idea which species it belonged to. 

Suggestions of ID much appreciated.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hoya micrantha - a second look

Small and insignificant, often overlooked. ...but its bloom is the finest piece of jewellery.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Hoya of many names

A very common Hoya in Singapore sometimes seen smothering the trunks of trees in open areas. Also very widespread too - from S. India all through IndoChina, Malaysia and Borneo.  It has been given numerous names some by scholars and some by nursery men Hoya parasitica, acuta, ridleyii, rigida. But most seem to convene on Hoya verticiliata nowadays.

Flowers may have a green tinge to pink and the leaves may be plain or spotted. The bloom is waxy and attractive and extremely fragrant at certain times of the day. It is an easy plant for most growers, the only problem being its excessively messy growth habit which I still do not know how to tame.

This plant root easily from cuttings and need bright light to bring to bloom, even full sun as long as the root balls are protected. It can tolerate some degree of dryness which is why it is rather common at roadsides of Singapore.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The little weaver

Curious lanterns have been hanging on a few trees in this waste land for more than a year. Every time I go past, I would stop in silence for a while and watch for signs of activity, but would always fail to detect any. Most of these nests are facing the east, in accordance to known literature. I have assumed the residents had long abandoned the site due to human disturbance..... until one morning .....
... a flurry of activities  alerted me to the arrival of new nestling season. The Baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus) is back building a new township .....

The one in the centre with an inverted long funnel entrance, is almost completed while the one on the left is still at initial stage. The long funnel is supposed to deter predators, notably snakes, from raiding the nest. The birds flutter in exuberance carrying strands of grass and inspecting their work of art and some even seemed to tilt their heads, glancing sideways to spy on their neighbours. How I wish I have a bazooka lens that can zoom in on the action but until then, I will have to make do with these images.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Shiny

A Hoya from Papua, probably still undescribed, and an admirer.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bulbophyllum morphologlorum

Bulbophyllums in the section Anisopetalum have small flowers arranged in a raceme and are found mostly in Indo-China and India. 

Sometimes the inflorescence can be rather long and spectacular, as in this species recorded from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

 This plant is tolerant of lowland culture and some drought and is not difficult to flower.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


A few years ago I wrote here that Hoya danumensis and wallichii were similar without even having seen the real Hoya wallichii - the reason being it had not been seen in the flesh for more than 100 years. Michelle Rodda, who had  spent hours looking at pickled flowers in the herbarium promptly corrected me. Reading the worded descriptions in the paper and knowing how some researchers were intolerant of variations within species, I was naturally skeptical .... I was also no taxonomist.

As luck would have it,  the real Hoya wallichii was discovered scrambling in the lowland of Peninsula Malaysia about 1 year later and we even managed to see a specimen in flower. 

And what a flower. 

Not only was it very different from H. danummensis, it was totally unlike any Hoya I knew.     

The umbel produce only a single large dish shape flower with a most striking claw-like blood-red corona. Descriptions in the paper made no mention of the distinctive colour of the corona - understandable considering it was described from a century old pickle.

In the wild, this plant was found on rocky outcrops covered with leaf litter together with other low shrubs and trailers and was really inconspicuous without flower. My impression was that this was a much dryer habitat than that of H. campanulata which was normally found near a water source.
For more details, do check out Michelle's article in Gardenwise, a publication by Singapore Botanical Garden.

Friday, April 10, 2015

being free

I think....one can only be free if he believes he has nothing to lose .....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Didymoplexiella ornata - the hidden orchid.

It was the onset of rainy season in November and these tiny leafless orchids were blossoming in the dark damp forest floor.   They were not easy to spot but apparently they were so abundant that once we spotted the first and had our senses trained, the rest seemed to emerge miraculously - the pale flower appearing like beacon from the sea of brown leaf litter. 


It is not an easy plant to find - not because its rare but because being leafless and unable to perform photosynthesis, the plant exists only as a subterranean tuber most of the time. One can only be certain of its whereabout when it flowers. It derived its nutrients from a network of fungal mycelia which surround and infiltrate the tuber. In turn, the fungi obtained nutrients by breaking down organic matter at the leaf litter.  This mode of parasitic relationship with the fungi is known as myco-heterotrophy.

There are 8 species in  this genus but Didymoplexiella ornata is the only species found in Malaysia and Singapore.

As you can see in the closeups, there are a couple of "spurs" flanking the column and this differentiate this genus from the closely related but more elusive Didymoplexis which is also found in this region.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cup fungus Cookeina

We came across this small colourful fungus a few times in the forests, always in very damp wood or logs. According to R.N. Weinstein, there are 7 species of Cookeina distributed in subtropical and tropical regions worldwide although a couple more have been since his paper in 2002.

This particular one, a dream for photographers, appeared to be C. sulcipes and is widely distributed in tropical Americas, Africa and Asia. It is an edible species and efforts are made to farm them as we speak. The spores are located inside the "cups" - or apothecium for purists - and are released in one go upon maturity. Someone actually counted that 3-24 million spores are released each time from an apothecium !

The colour can be variable - we found a paler variety shown below in Johore.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Things that go bumped in the jungle night ....

Shriveled and holey;  everything has an expiry date .... this one way passed ....

....and this rather prematurely .... overpowered by fungus. Yes, it used to be a living creature although it does not look like it - we will see a living specimen soon ....

....the translucent long-legged beasty on a high wire

.... a predator no less, despite its 3cm frame

... a burly bouncer sprang from its subterranean lair. This one really looked the part ....

This a a real find, believed to be the Singapore Bent-toe gecko Cyrtodactylus majulah first described in 2012. 

A small Phasmid.
The jungle cousin of our domestic pest.

The nymph of the Flatidae plant hopper - a live one this time.

A colony of the quivering nymphs.

The curious bloom of Pterisanthes - a grape relative.
 ......  now to bed, and sweet dreams

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bulbophyllum sinapsis

A rather uncommon orchid from the paradise of PNG. This is a slow growing one which is vegetatively rather similar to the related B. micranthum. The bloom, as you can see,  is such a work of art. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The leaf litter plant

Just like tank forming Bromeliads of the New World and Bird Nest ferns (Asplenium) in our back yard, the leaf-litter plant or (Agrostistachys borneensis) traps fallen leaves and debris at its rosette crown and absorbs the nutrients after their decomposition.

This is a common and rather untidy small tree from the forests of SE Asia. It is a member of the Euphorbia family.

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