Saturday, August 20, 2011

Medinilla scortechinii (?)

The largest specimen I have seen for this SE Asian native was actually grown in a botanical garden in Europe. It was a tall shrub smothered with inflorescence.
Most plants offered locally are grown in 12" pots with only 1 or 2 inflorescence and I have no idea they could be so spectacular. Its possible also they could be cooler grower and hence less vigorous in the lowland.

Like its relative Medinilla magnifica, the inflorescence are pendulous while the wild species in a previous post are errect. Another obvious difference is the leaf shape, and possibly the leaf venation of which I was unable to observe in detail due to inaccessability of the wild plants.

As pointed out by Mr Luther which I later verified from a quick search, Medinilla scortechinii has orange inflorescence so this plant was obviously mislabelled in the garden. I do not have any keys to Medinilla identification, so I can only offer possible IDs - pendula and speciosa being two of them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Alocasia sanderiana var nobilis

I set eyes on my first Alocasia sanderiana var nobilis at a private gardener's collection more than 10 years ago. I thought I had been impressing the veteran with my incessant botanical mumbo jumbo until I saw the plant and dismissed it as plastic .... this was almost the "most humble day of my life" ....

This mother of all Alocasia x amazonica was first described by W. Bull in 1884 from specimens collected in The Phillippines. Some believed its white venations and dissected leaves may serve to enhance a "tattered" look and makes it less appealing to potential diners.

From a horticulture point of view, the wild plant is certainly more impressive and eye-catching than the hybrid - which makes you wonder why bother. However, its also more temperamental. Like many wild Alocasias, it has a worrying habit of going dormant...sometimes seemingly forever.

The wild plant is now very rare - in fact, it is officially critcally endangered, since its natural habitat is reduced to 2 lowland localities in Mindanao which are subjected to deforestation and human enroachment. Tissue cultured plants are available occasionally but they are definitely less common than its hybrid.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Long Live Liverwort !

Hooray ! Hooray !
The BPL starts today
I will root for Liverpool
You can shoot a rioter or two
Hooray ! Hooray !

A series of pictures of this most primitive of plants ..... in fact probably the grand daddy of most land plants (excluding algae, which is not a true plant).

...beside a waterfall
.... at a highland mossy forest ....
....perhaps a millipede weed, Bazzania sp....
....cultivated on a rockscape in China ....
Gametophytes of Marchantia.

This marks the beginning of the English football season with a revamp team - YNWA !!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The hump back Dischidia

Dischidia astephana is endemic to the highland of Malaysia. It belongs to a group of Dischidias with turtle shell leaves that attract ants below the surface, However, its bumpy leaf and the five-lobed scarlet flowers set it apart from all other similar species. The strange leaves even turn purplish under bright light !
While wandering in the highland, we noticed this tree with one fork showing the flaking bark typical of many species from the Myrte family (Myrtaceae), and the other smothered with this Dischidia .....
....which is kind of baffling since the flaking bark is supposed to rid the tree of epiphytes. Anyway, this species is documented to be found commonly found on Leptospermum and probably other myrtle-like plants. You can see that the leaves actually stack on top of each other - creating folds upon folds of hiding places for its insect friends.
.... I gave a few taps on the foliage with a stick and angry ants started oozing out from the crevices.
....the abdomens, which are shaped like black spades from poker cards, identified them as Crematogaster sp ....
Here's a closeup of the unique flower. While most Dischidias are rather drab, this species is very desirable horticulturally. If only it is more tolerable to the lowland heat .....

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