Wednesday, December 31, 2008


With its figs, or more correctly, synconia, almost covering the whole mid section of its main trunk, this Ficus fistulosa is having a very fruitful 2008 indeed.

An unknown legume from Malaysia lowland forest flowering from bare trunk.

Belimbang Hutan (which means jungle starfruit in Malay) or Baccaurea angulata in Latin. Actually, it is from family Euphorbiaceae while starfruit Averrhoa carambola is from Family Scarabaeoidea.

The colourful fruits brought more than a cheerful respite from the dull green of the jungle. It has a sour but juicy mesocarp which quenches the thirst of us thirsty hikers. It is only found in Borneo.

Cauliflory is the habit of many tropical trees to bear flowers and fruits on the main trunk rather than on lofty, leafy branches. It is an example of niche targetting in the natural world. While most other trees were competing to attract arboreal pollinators and seed dispersal agents high up in the canopy, these cauliflorous trees were offering fruits and nectar to bottom dwellers nearer to forest floors. Over the many years of evolution, the mass duplication of this design across trees from very diverse families, from both the New and Old World implies that this niche exploitation has, by and large, been quite successful.

More recently, in our human world, a similar strategy of our banks to offer fruits and nectar to bottom dwellers does not appear to be as rewarding....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Copper Cheek

A copper-cheeked frog, Rana chalconata hiding behind leaves of a shrub during the day. This is a nocturnal forest frog and I had just woken it from slumber. It is a native of SE. Asia, from Thailand down to Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawaei.

Hey, 2008, or what's left of it, is the year of the frog, ....more here. Climate change, polluted waters and fungal infection has condemned many species of amphibians to the verge of extinction.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


A pecan plantation at Alabama. Carya illinoinensis, or Pecan is a large deciduous tree from southern part of North America which produce an edible nut that looked like an elongated rubber seed (has same pattern too). We could still find quite a bit of fresh nuts on the ground below one of the trees,which I cracked with a firm stomp and picked the meat out. Finding that the fresh meat tasted sweeter and more flavourful than those in the market, we returned to collect more .... until we were eventually chased away by the owner !

Friday, December 19, 2008


Giant sprinklers at Cleverdon Farm, which produces 4 types of ornamental grass. The sprinkler bars are mounted on giant wheels, each wheel being almost man's height.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 °C, Weeks Bay

On a chilly morning that reminded me of more of New York than Gulf Coast Alabama, I decided to take a drive to nearby Weeks Bay to take a look at the bog. I discovered this place just last night having aimlessly driven along Route 98 to check out the coast. It was too dark to see anything then, except for the sign that read "Pitcher Plant Bog".

The thermometer read 1 degree Celcius when I stepped out of the car.
The planks on the boardwalk was covered by glistening ice crystals and was really slippery. The bog was on both sides of the boardway but the recent cold spell had damaged most of the pitcher plants. We did manage to get a glimpse of a couple of the nice White-topped Pitcher plant, Saccacenia leucophylla. I believe this place will be magical in late spring or summer.
Bog habitat.

Fog rising from Fish River.

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