Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Many years ago I salvaged an interesting cutting of Hoya wrapped around a fallen log. The log and its entanglements originated somewhere in the catchment area but was felled and dragged to the existing location - outside a toilet of a public park .... and left to cook under the glare of the tropic sun. An elusive bloom earlier this year verified that it was Hoya scortechinii which is very rare in Singapore, although it could still be found infrequently in other countries. In fact, its occurence on the tiny red dot was only formally documented in 2011. The corolla is usually photographed when it curved backwards but I managed to capture the early moments when it had just opened. 

Singapore is in a floristically rich region and many species were rediscovered or recorded for the first time only recently - amongst them Hoyas (H. coronaria 2006 and H. caudata 2012) Gesneriads (Aeschynanthus albidus 2008) and Orchids (Liparis barbata 2010 and Vrydagzynea lancifolia 2014). It is unfortunate we are also in the mist of a dramatic population growth and development phase which will test the resolve to preserve whatever nature there is left.

Vrydagzynea lancifolia
Vrydagzynea lancifolia

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Small urns

Hoya heuschkeliana from PNG - a  small species with interesting tiny flowers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A mass flowering event

There is a fleeting explosion of blooms on the otherwise plain-looking canes of a Thrixspermum species during the rainy season. The flowers are at their best in the cool morning - by mid-noon, most of them would have deteriorated into sticky globs.

Thrixspermum comprises 100 plus species of small to mid-size old-world orchids with a vandaceous growth pattern. I cannot pin down the exact name of this one as I had it for years and could not even recall its habitat locality but it does not look like the usual local species like centipeda or acuminatissimum. Many of them have similar blooms and one needs to examine them in details to determined its exact identity. The long sepals and petals makes this a very eye-catching species but the genus as a whole does not capture too many fans due to its ephemeral and smallish flowers. This particular plant can take light shade to full sun and is rather maintenance-free as long as high humidity is maintained.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A nasty little stinker - Amorphophallus cirrifer

On two occasions where my Amorphophallus cirrifer bloomed, I was checking my sandals and the surrounding for traces of dog poop. It really smelled like one, and although I have plenty of smelly plants in the collection, this one was so bad it made me want to puke.

This medium size plant is found in deciduous forests in central Thailand and had been known in the west since 1920s although it remained rare in cultivation until the e-trading era.
The inflorescence tried its best to mimic a dead rat - its very short flower stalk, the liver-coloured spathe and its grotesque long tapering hairy spadix that looked like the tail. And of course its odour - taking closeup pictures without a telephoto lens is a self-inflicted torture.  In terms of carrion mimicry, its right up there with the likes of Helicodiceros muscivorus and a few others mentioned in a round-up of smelly ugly plants.

This plant has a very long tuber which will pull the plant lower as it grows so it has to be kept in a deep pot . This plant is relatively new for me and I am still learning as it goes so any advice will be appreciated.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pinanga simplicifrons - small and rather neat

After a very prolonged dry spell, the monsoon season took over - typified by thundery storms mostly during noons. Not the best time to roam in the wilds and least of all, the occasionally inundated swamp forests. I was actually hoping to capture some events of mass flowering, which happened only once every few years or more and in this freakish weather I would expect to occur.

In one of my hurried solitary forays in this soggy terrain, I encountered a rather rare plant - Pinanga simplicifrons, a very distinctive small palm with distinctive oblong undivided leaves forked at the end. This plant is distributed in Malay Peninsula, Borneo and Sumatra but I had never seen it available in commercial nurseries - which is a pity, given its small manageable size and very appealing foliage.

I managed to snap some pictures before the rumbling sky snapped me to my good sense and I got out of the swamp just as the first few droplets of rain descended ....

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cucurbit from Leyte

Patterned leaves of a Cucurbit vine (Cucumber family) from the Philippines.
Any ID ?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Surreal texture .... Alocasia melo

This is a rare small Alocasia from Sabah with textural leaves that feel like cardboard. It had been in cultivation since 1960s but the exact habitat was not known until sometime in 1990s where K.M. Wong,  A. Hayes and P Boyce found them growing on ultramafic river banks in the lowland of Sabah and eventually gave it a name in 1997. 

Below is the painting made by Mary Grierson from the specimen grown in Kew in 1960s.

The plant had been made available commercially but is still not very common. According to literature,  plants in the Australian botanical garden had been growing in free draining mixture with 75% perlite, 25% gypsum, epson salts, iron sulphate, lime dolomite and a little copper sulphate. Being a lowland jungle plant, high humidity and temperature is essential.

Ref: Curtis's botanical magazine, 1997, 82-86.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New species of limestone Alocasia

This is an as-yet un-named lithophytic species of Alocasia found growing on limestone slopes on the Philippines island of Samar.

Its distinguishing feature is the peltate leaf with small or no sinus (thats the dent at the top of the leaf blade).  The leaf blade is plain and smooth at the top with only the central midrib showing an indentation. Only a few specimens were seen, all growing on the steep slope in the shade.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Morning bash at Titiwangsa mossy forest

Rising before the sun, we drove to an open barren dumping ground doubled up as a parking spot,  marched through a path bordered by tall grasses,  drove away a pack of wild dogs,  waited for the first ray before scrambling up a slope and eventually entering a cool dark mossy forest....

 The ground was soft and moist and littered with terrestrial herbs....

like Medinilla (an epiphyte on fallen branch) - M. clarkei ?

Platanthera angustata, a highland terrestrial orchid - we saw this everywhere but could not get a good flower to photograph.
This one I have absolutely no idea .... is the flower coming from those leaves or it that a saprophyte ?
This ginger with its characteristics stilt roots and erect yellow inflorescence is Geostachys densiflora. It is endemic to the Titiwangsa Range and is deemed vulnerable due to extensive developments.

.... its rather horticultural but alas, a cool grower.
Another cool growing ginger - Camptandra ovata
  Different types of mosses on the ground ....
Hymenophyllum - the familiar filmy ferns of the elfian forest, draping the trunks.
Xiphopterella hieronymusii, a fern confined to montane forests in Peninsula Malaysia and Thailand. I have seen a similar lowland species in Leyte which I should have checked the spore patterns.
Many epiphytic orchids, but only 2 flowering :This one is  Dilochia cantleyi, also confined to highlands....

The inflorescence is really stunning !
A tree trunk full of Coelogynes ....
This one appears to be C. radicosa
And the charming Rhododendron malayanum. This was first described by William Jack from specimens collected in Sumatra - as to why it turned out not to be a "sumatranum" was not known. This widespread Vireya can also be found in the lowlands. 
And this is another mystery plant at the edge of the forest, in more open space. It appears to be some kind of horsetail growing on a tree, or perhaps an aberrant Psilotum nudum - a parasite from mistletoe family (Viscaceae) has also been suggested.
Still unsure what this can be ....

Near  the edge of the forest, we met another lovely Nepenthes sanguinea ....
and its a lady !

Friday, February 14, 2014

I am a weevil in love .....

And I do anything
To get you into my world
And hold you within
Its a right I defend
Over and over again
What do I do?

Barbara Streisand 

..... no wait.....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Waiting waiting ....

Dole-eyed follower of William and Kate
Always looking so far,
when something good is so near
How I wish she'll kiss me quick
Before I turn back to….
.... oops too late....

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Toothed Bulbophyllum

Just a reminder of my horrific experience at the dentist today, which left me somewhat short of haemoglobin.

The latin name for this hot growing orchid from Section Cirrhopetalum is Bulbophyllum dentiferum. Many members in this section have highly mobile labellum and flowers arranged like a fan - see for example B. auratum and this one.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stahlianthus sp

Stahlianthus is a little known genus of smallish gingers from S. India and Indo China. There are probably a handful of species although new ones are continuously being identified. The most common species in horticulture is Stahlianthus involucratus, notably a red-leaf form which is interesting even when not blooming.

I have been growing this plant for many years now, which differs from S. involucratus by its narrow grass-like leaves. The flower appear out of a cup-like bract - very interesting but also very infrequent in our climate.

With the very limited literature that I have, I can only hazard a guess on it ID - probably Stahlianthus pedicelatus from the NE Thailand.

You can see its description here.

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