Sunday, January 27, 2008

Begonia rubida male

This bright ruby red male flower of Begonia rubida is unique amongst the Sarawak species, which have paler flowers in shades of pink or white.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Begonia rubida

Young leaves of Begonia rubida are very intensely coloured. Alas, the adults become leggy and more uniformly green. The name refers to the ruby red male flowers of this species. It is endemic to Bau region in Sarawak.
As mentioned by Ruth Kiew in her paper, each Begonia species in Bau occupy a niche microenvironment in the limestone hills so as not to compete with each other (how peace loving !), with rubida predorminantly growing near exposed summits with less shade. We also found this to be quite true we saw plants growing in North West facing slopes above the tree canopy.

Bau is very rich in biodiversity. Unfortunately, it is also rich in mineral deposit, especially gold. Many local Chinese and Bidayuhs are engaged in family run mining activities and we saw haphazardly dug and abandoned trenches around the hills.

Friday, January 25, 2008


The operculum swings open and the young bud surges upward without regards to the economic crisis, war on terror, American election and climate change.

An Amorphophallus bulb breaking dormancy. Sometimes the flower (more correctly the inflorescence) emerge before the single large divided leaf. Let's see ....

Monday, January 21, 2008


The beauty of imperfectionTwo figs from the same mother tree. One rotten and the other still green...

....the rotten one harbours a tenant....

The tenant is also flawed, having lost one of its antennae ....

Fruiting season for figs always attract a lot of animals - as any experience birdwatcher can attest. Frugivorous birds (1) like pink-necked pigeons, starlings, black-napped orioles, koels, hornbills, fairy bluebirds and mammals like plantain squirrels, tree shrew, long tailed macaques, bats and all kinds of insects gather here for a feast. So do hunters, like snakes, including pythons.

During a noon walk near Catchment area beside expressway, many Fig trees were just starting to fruit abundantly. This particular tree was not very "fruitful" - producing very few figs.

Any idea what critter is this ? A tiny cricket ?

(1) Peh et al, Ornithol. Sci. 2: 119–125 (2003)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unknown Bulbophyllum from PNG

This smallish Bulbophyllum just flowered for a friend. The yellowish flowers make a U turn. ID welcome !!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


While roaming around the swamps in Johore, we were stopped in our tracks by something floating in midair behind some shrubs ...It turned out to be Nepenthes ampullaria, a pitcher plant that became a "vegetarian". Instead of eating bugs like its relatives, it feed on fallen leaves...argh ! The species rarely produced aerial pitchers (not easy to trap debris in the air) and these are actually basal pitchers being pulled up by the climbing stems. their rotund pitchers with rudimentary lids are kinda cute ....this plant is common in SE Asia, and can be seen even in Singapore !

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rediscovery of Rafflesia schadenbergiana

....what a mouthful, but this is the rarest of the 5 species of Rafflesia in the Phillippines (and counting)- in fact it has not been seen for more than 100 years prior to this rediscovery - albeit on a single Tetrastima vine.... its existance is literally hanging on a string ....

goto link

Monday, January 14, 2008


Quesnelia marmorata - a Brazilian Bromeliad (from the pineapple family). This is an unusual form with curly leaves and heavy mottling - reminds one of a Cephalopod ....Source: Nesis P15.
The plant has never flowered for me although it can pup - it also appears to be a slow grower here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bulbophyllum plumatum - "red chilli"

Bulbophyllum plumatum Ames and Bulbophyllum jacobsonii JJ Smith are believed to be the same species and was originally described from plants in Philippines - it is also found in East Malaysia and Sumatra.

In the late 1990s, plants looking like the one in the photo began to surface in the local market - professional plant collectors claimed they were from freshwater swamps in N. Johore - S. Pahang State in Peninsula Malaysia. They appeared to be superior to the original plants due to longer sepals. As of now, taxonomist believed they are the same species, although having seen both plants flower, they looked very different - the sepals are very long and rugose in the Johore plant. Another similar plant also found in Johore - a yellow flowered form - has been named named as a new species - B. thiurum. Gard. Bull. Sing. 57 (2005)p133-137 as its lateral sepals are only fused at the base while that of plumatum fused over a longer length.

Sadly the coastal swamp forest in this area is being destroyed for oil palm plantation (with the exception of the National Park) - it appears to have an interesting flora and fauna somewhere between the mainland and Indonesia and many unique plants have been described since late 1980s.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Begonia Species

A new species from Northern Vietnam - Begonia kui. In was actually found in a Taiwan flower market for sometime before taxonomists found it naturally in Nam.
Source: Botanical Studies - Volume 48 Number 1 January 2007 (Pg 127).

Anyone has this to trade ?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Green Chains

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

So not knowing is a blessing ?

Huperzia carinata is an ornamental and widespread species from the Clubmoss or Lycopodium family. The family itself is also ubiquituous, being found in temperate (even Nordic) as well as tropical areas, as a terrestrial or an epiphyte or lithophyte. The spores are hydrophobic (ie repels water) and hence spores of some species like Lycopodium clavatum have been harvested as protective dusting powder for some pills which absorb water. Another local terrestrial species Lycopodium cernuum, is commonly encountered in poor soils with Nepenthes as in the Kent Ridge area.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dove orchid

The terrestrial orchid Peristeria elata is the national flower of Panama. This is a big orchid with fist-size pseudobulbs and leaves up to a metre long. The tall flower stalk bears 10-20 plus very fragrant and exquisite flowers, opening four or five at a time, so the flowering period can last more than a month. This is its first flowering for me since acquiring it 2 years ago - and from its strength I am sure more would follow. From what I heard, it used to commonly planted in Singapore and does well in our climate.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Many plants are extinct in the wild but survived in cultivation. These are usually nice looking plants that caught the fancy of horticulturists. Examples include the aluminum plant Pilea cadierei from Vietnam, the Chocolate Cosmos Cosmos atrosanguineus from Mexico and at one time the Malaysian Begonia rajah was thought to be in this category, until its rediscovery in a Johore stream near Endau Rompin National Park. Most likely the pretty Impatiens repens from Sri Lanka is also a member in this club - it has not been seen in the wild for a century already as its habitat has been destroyed.
The cool house in Singapore Botanical Garden has big clumps of this plant although I do not think it needs to be cool - mine grow wild in partial shade and wet soils. Its creeping habit and large yellow bloom has been the interests of hybridisation attempts.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Two Hoyas from Eriostemma Section

Introducing Hoya "Ruthie" (left) and H. affinis !

Ed Guilding created the Ruthie hybrid and passed me a cutting years ago - it turned out to be the most vigorous and floriferous Hoya in my place ! In fact, it flowers so much - I fear for its health ! Hoya affinis is from Soloman Islands in the Pacific. Like most Eriostemma species, its is vigorous but shy flowering and hence can be the most frustrating species to grow.

Eriostemma is a peculiar section in the Hoya family - they have large and plastic-looking bloom and succulent vegetative characteristics. The flower structure is also rather different from normal Hoyas but you have to make a cross section cut to see it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


The end of the old year .... the economic uncertainty and the political assasination really weighs down....very distant yet it will in someway bite you.

A short-lived gesneriad (of African Violet Family) from the limestone of Vietnam - Chirita caliginosa aff. Members of this tropical Microchirita Section appear to be omnipresent in limestones of the mainland - having seen them in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

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