Kota Tinggi – A Reprise Part 4 : Nepenthes Land!

July 29, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Posted in fieldtrip, nepenthes, orchids, travel | Leave a comment

A short drive away from our last locality, we reached Jermaluang. It was a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon and many shops seems to be closed or in a siesta mood. In fact, the whole town seem to be in siesta. We settled for a home-operated “restoran” for lunch. It was a simple fanfare, but the Kampung food was really sedap.

After recharging our body with drinks and a quick makan, we were back on the road again. Azmi suggested that we make a short detour to visit some Nepenthes locality, to make the trip “more inteesting”. I couldn’t resist. 🙂

He hadn’t been to the location for sometime now. So we called Lim for help. After a quick confirmation on the locality and driving instructions, we were on the road again. And it wasn’t before long that we struck gold. We knew that we had entered Nepenthes territory. It was not a full Kerangas type of habitat but the ferns and other vegetative landscape suggest that pitcher plants could be near by and true enough there they were. First to be stopped were N. gracilis, possibly the most abundant species in southern Peninsula.

Not bad for a first stop we thought. The pitchers look a big and robust but they seem to be infected by the “red stain” problem caused by a fungal attack ,as mentioned in Phillipps, Lamb and Lee’s new book.

We drove on to another location and through a quiet sliproad, we were greeted by a magnificent upper pitcher of N. rafflesiana standing erect and proud amongst the resam fern backdrop.

The peristome displayed a psychedelic spectrum of colours!

Then we saw A. gramatifolia, another indication of entering Nepenthes land!

An interesting dark red N. raffesiana lower pitcher.

A typical speckled lower pitcher

We also found a red clone of N. gracilis.

And some green N. ampullaria which are commonly found in these areas.

Couldn’t locate any N. xhookeriana and N. xtrichocarpa but we felt glad to be able to see these tropical pitchers nonetheless. 🙂

 

 

to be continued….

Kota Tinggi – A Reprise Part 1 : schulzei

May 7, 2008 at 6:26 am | Posted in cryptocoryne, fieldtrip, nature | Leave a comment

Bright sunny morning on the last weekend of June 2007, Azmi, Old man Vincent, Edmund and I went on a fieldtrip to Kota Tinggi to visit some crypt collections there. This was a very last minute arrangement. None of us could commit our time to a proper fieldtrip but all of us were dying to get our feet wet somewhere. No nets this time round though… a full-fledged fieldtrip just for the group of amphibious aroids we all love, Cryptocoryne.

We met up at Lakeside MRT. Everyone was late. :p After about an hour from the designated meeting time, we were finally on our way across the causeway. Much to our surprise, clearing customs was a breeze on this weekend morning. Singaporeans are known to flock across the border for cheap groceries, cheap petrol, cheap makan, cheap shopping, cheap massages, pirated DVDs,  etc… perhaps not this weekend, I thought.

We stopped by a small “restoran” at Kampung Masjidee for its famous sambal prata. Apart from the usual curry and gula, this place serves their prata with sambal made from chilli padi! Sedap and shiok! Started with just a simple combo of one telur and one kosong. But couldn’t resist ordering another telur. Better don’t eat too much… would have problems finding place to berak later. :p

And after brief shopping at a provision shop for plastic bags and portable water, we were on our way to the first location, the home of Cryptocoryne schulzei.

This is a beautifully preserved location. Very low water levels and slow flowing due to the dry season in full swing. To my surprise, the population we immediately saw was not in deep shade but baking under the full sun. And yet, they are surviving well with spathes bursting open in full glory merely inches from one another. A spectacular sight to behold.

A emerse population with many opened spathes

 A standard portrait of an opened spathe.

 

 Most specimens have very short spathes. Some growing in deeper waters sent out longer spathes, and necessarily so to prevent the throat and tube from being flooded.

It was a real treat to observe a myriad display of foliage morphology.

 

Another population under shade had more subdued green leaves growing to a modest size.

An opened syncarpium. Seeds collected from within later grew into the large population of C. schulzei which I currently have. 🙂

Despite the sand + clay based (loamy?) substrate, a population of Barclaya sp. growing near by suggests that the waters are actually rather acidic.

And finally, what a spectacle to behold!

 

Kota Tinggi – A Reprise Part 2 : Kota Tinggi

May 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Posted in cryptocoryne, fieldtrip, nature | Leave a comment

This is a reprise of a fieldtrip report I’d put up on www.petfrd.com last year shortly after the crypt collection trip in Southern Peninsula Malaysia(PM). I thought it would be good to put it up here again. Special thanks to Azmi and old man Vincent for being such good sport and great pals!

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24 Jun 2007 (Sunday)

Making use of my precious weekends, Azmi suggested visiting some cryptocoryne localities in Southern PM. He hasn’t been here in quite a while as well.  He’s like an amphibious creature trapped within the concrete jungles of modern civilisation. I’d longed for this trip for a long time now and the fresh air of the country would certainly do me some good. Vincent Mah is always good company. Too bad Rashid couldn’t join us. He’s gotta attend to his daughters as school reopens for a new semester the following day.

This is the second stop for the day actually. The first was C. schulzei (a field trip report reprise would follow suit soon so Akan Datang!). Back in the car, Azmi pre-empted us to be mentally prepared on what we were about to see – the deplorable state he’d witnessed the last time he was here. But that was some months back from this trip. Hopefully things had gotten better… and not made a turn for the worse… We kept our fingers crossed.

All of a sudden, we stopped in the middle of nowhere. No rivers, no jungle, no streams… a highly unlikely place to find a crypt I thought to myself. Here we are, facing a matured oil-palm plantation, not unlike those we’d seen along the way after cross the Causeway, and will certainly continue to see as we head north later.

There, somewhere tugged within this matured oil-palm plantation, was a small mudpool whose water levels had dropped to a pathetic low, barely reaching our ankles. The air reeked of an obnoxious stench, almost prompting us to heave the sambal prata from Kampung Masjidee we’d savoured with much delight earlier in the morning. True enough, there was an infestation of cyanobacteria within that stagnant pool. To call it a mud pool seemed much of an overrating really. But there seems to be no appropriate term for it. The place is basically nondescript. Deplorable seemed much of an understatement now. And there it was, in the middle of “nothing” was an open spathe of Cryptocoryne sp. Kota Tinggi, a likely natural hybrid of the other Crypt species that can be found in PM.

         The small population was confined to a space no bigger than a queen-sized bed.  We weren’t sure if there are other populations of this Kota Tinggi crypt elsewhere. We certainly hoped that there are as this population, at the rate things are going, would hardly be able to sustain itself over long periods of time. From what we can see, we weren’t the only ones who had been here recently; there were signs of plants being removed from the place.

 A little effluent running through the plantation

 

The “mud pool”

 

Some matured specimens collected, with rust-colored undersides, very narrowly ovate leaves.

 Some young runners display a very interesting morph – limegreen lancolate leaves. Couldn’t have mistaken it for another species if not for the leaves of the old plant from which the runners were sent out from.

 In the same locality, we also found Cryptocoryne cordata var. cordata

“Close up” of the spathe. No macro shots though as I was carrying my trusty o’ Fuji S5000 P&S and not the NIkon.

Here, old man Vincent also found another population of a Cryptocoryne spp. The leaves look cordated but has markings which seem atypical of C. cordata var. cordata. Brought some specimens back. Just have to get them to send out spathes to reveal its true identity now. Perhaps it’ll turn out to be another population of C. sp. Kota Tinggi.

 

 

The old oil palm trees’ dense canopy foliage provided shade and most importantly, a means to reduce ground level water evaporation to enable this crypt to survive till now. Once the plantation becomes officially expired, the logging of the palms would bring about the demise of the crypt population as without the cover provided by the towering cash crop, it is almost certain that the crypts would bake to death under the blazing equatorial sun.

Cryptocoryne sp. Kota Tinggi is not difficult to cultivate under emerse conditions and it has been well-circulated within the hobby over the last 2 years. An acidic peat moss substrate would perfectly do the trick. It sends runners rather slowly but when the conditions are conducive, one would be invariably rewarded by its unique inflorescence.

 

 

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