Monday, December 31, 2007

Thai Amorphophallus

A small species from the limestone hills recently flowered ....last few days of 2007
Vegetative appearance in-situ.

ID needed - suggestions welcome !

Amorphophallus albidispathus red stem form as per Alan Galloway and Hetterscheid

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Undescribed Begonia

Seedlings of this undescribed new species from Sarawak 7 months after sowing the seeds.
Here's how the adult looks like, growing at a slope near the riverbank.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


....The light boat passes ten thousand mountains....a Li Bai poem.
When you are light at heart, leaving is easy. Bye !

The morning fog shrouded the limestone hills enroute to Perfume Pagoda near Hanoi. Its not the tourist season, which is just nice for me, but our boat lady complained we are her only customers for the past month.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Impatiens from Vietnam

A highland Impatiens. With the rain pelting on me it was hard to get a good shot of this beauty, but it was one of the few flowering natives on this trip.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two banks of the river

Vietnamese farmers working their land and harvesting kang kong. They do this every day I was there, rain or shine. At the opposite bank of the Hoi An River sits a four star resort full of tourists recovering from Christmas celebrations nights before.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


A magical moment in Bach Ma National Park about 1000m asl, Vietnam. These large Fish tail palms (Caryota sp) producing nice silhouettes. Its not easy to get to Bach Ma, all the more made worse by recent damages to the road up the 1500 m mountain. Most people took a jeep up and trekked from the dormitory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Its winter and rice harvesting season is over at the Red River Delta. Amongst a backdrop of limestone hills, cattle grazed. Vietnam is highly agricultural and I was rather dismayed to see many of the karst limestone, especially at lower elevation, contaminated by exotic flora, prickly pear cactus, Hyalocereus (bearer of Dragon fruits), Euphorbia heterophylla, Rheo discolor, Aloes and whats not - the indigenous plants are not so easily sighted, although they are no doubt present.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


....which means devil's yam. An unfortunate common Chinese name for Amorphophallus, a genus from the Yam family(Aroid) which typically has grotesque smelly flower borne from a tuber usually before any foliage appears. Other unfortunate names include corpse flower (Indonesia)and vodoo lily (widely used in the west).

Shown here is Amorphophallus bulbifer, used as a food plant in some parts of Asia (like India). Fortunately, it did not release any of its famed odour during this photo session. This species is medium size, of easy culture and has nice foliage so if one has accomodating neighbours, why not give it a shot ?

Ouch! ....yes dear, will get it out of the apartment right now !

A previous entry of these plants here

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coffee or tea ?

This unusual form of the black stemmed yam, Colocasia esculenta (yes, the one that we make bo bo cha cha with) is called "coffee cup" in USA. The leaves are really cup-shaped and can hold water during rain - though for what purpose I cannot really tell. The dark purple stem and venations are rather neat. Mei Mei, you may not pour coffee on it...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rain and a prayer

It has rained for 2 days non-stop. The raindrops paint a shiny gloss on the leaves of Phrynium, a type of prayer plant related to gingers. Its called prayer plant because during the evening, the leaves fold downwards close to the stems - somehow it reminds one of a person pressing both hands together as if in prayer.

Well, let's pray that the changes ahead are for the good of everyone and the rain will be gone and sunlight will shine through.....

.....grow up

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dark clouds

Its the rainy season again. Despite all the climate changes and erratic weather conditions elsewhere, its good to know that the North-east monsoon decided to show up in a timely fashion. Actually the "rainy season" is just a relative term. Singapore is always rainy. But during this period, rain can last 2 to 3 days. Rot and fungus can do a lot of damage to plants during this time.
The foreground shows a tiny unknown species of Dendrobium orchid from Indo-China - the bunch of flower heads are smaller than a 5-cent coin. I shone my torch on the flowers to bounce off some colours from an otherwise monochromatic theme.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Setting a trap

There ought to be a way to trap all the obnoxious scum bugs in our lives, be it car scratchers or blood suckers, and turn them into more meaningful materials .... like fertilisers.

Pitcher plants or Monkey Cups as they are called, have jug-shaped modified leaves that act like pot-bellies - digesting anything that fall inside. The jug of this Nepenthes rafflesiana sits patiently amongst the kerangas wasteland, and is so big it can catch a small mouse, as it sometimes does. This is a common plant and widespread throughout SE Asia.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


A word usually reserved for big men. Modesty preculdes the use for self description. Miserliness precludes the use on one's peers.

Last light at the Fairy Cave in Sarawak. The staircases indicate the scale of this landmark. Those big leaves on the big boulders are actually a species of very big Gesneriad that locals called "One-leaf". Its related to the African Violet and the Latin name is Monophyllea ....which means: one-leaf. More on this unique plant later.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tiger Debate

An interesting article appeared in Straits Times today.
A Chinese farmer from Shanxi published photos of a nearly extinct subspecies of tiger in the wild. Supposedly, he took 71 shots of the animal. The photos made it to the acclaimed Science Magazine in October 2007. Then, internet users and experts started doubting the photos. He eventualy posted a confession of his wrongdoing in his blog, but later dismissed it as coming from a hacker(!!). Apparently, local forestry authorities were on his side, which complicated matters quite a bit. The debate appeared to be settled when an exact image of the animal was found to be published by Vista Printing and Wrapping Co. Ltd, 2002 !
Anyway, I post a photo here for comments and reference.

If you ask me, ....which nobody did, coming from a photographer's point, I would find it hard to take this photograph without a fill-in flash to bring out the brilliant colours of the animal under the shade....but this would mean he could not have taken 71 shots could he ?

GardenTech is here

7-11 Dec 2007 @ HortPark.
HortPark ? That's new to me .... must check out ! Interesting to note its free this year ....
Click here to see more

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Can Can

An unknown Cirrhopetalum, all parts highly mobile at the slightest wind.
Suggestions for ID welcome !

Lydia Grace found a spot

This page from Sarah Stewart/David Small's children book "The Gardener" brings back memory of my campus days when I climbed to the rooftop of my lab building and started a succulent collection....metres away, the exhaust outlet was churning out potentially toxic fumes from the labs below. I believed that was an ideal place for the stonecrops which needed full sun, but they thought otherwise. I later learned that these are temperate plants.

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