Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Impatiens from Vietnam

I was at Border's this weekend. Wasn't having any expectation of new interesting plant books on the shelf. Browsing through familiar titles i came across a new title Impatiens by Raymond Morgan (Timberpress). The author covered impatiens from Africa, Masdagascar, Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia and China. Was very tempted to buy it but after the initial excitement... i realized that most species (with pictures) are quite well known. Christopher Grey-Wilson has devoted a monograph - Impatiens of Africa. So i am encouraged start-off with a few impatiens i saw during my travels around Southeast Asia.

I chanced upon this impatiens at Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay during my Vietnam trip in Nov 2005. This perennial balsam was found growing from peaty humus pockets on razor sharp eroded karst. It grows to around 50-80 cm tall from the base and have very pale pink or white flowers. It has a spindle-shaped basal stem up to the first side-branch. Wild plants of Halong Bay identified this as I. verrucifer. Flora of vietnam gives a distribution to include Ninhbinh, Quangnam and Phanrang on the mainland. Athough the plant is flowering vigorously, there is no developing or mature seed pods. I was not sure if November is the flowering season; maybe it is just opportunistic flowering when water is available. That year was probably an anomaly with typhoon bringing rains later and further north. October till April is normally the cool season and past typhoon season. Other plants that share a similar eco-niche are Euphorbia antiquorum, Sacrostemma sp (milk weed stem-climber), Dracaena cambodiana (Yucca-like), Drynaria sp (fern), Stephania sp (climber with peltate leaves & has a tuber).

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