Saturday, December 27, 2008

Adiantum reniforme

The species name reniforme suggests a kidney in outline.  This is a very unusual Adiantum.  It is found at 3 very separated locations. In Canary Islands, around the Three Gorges area in China and parts of Africa, Kenya, Tanzania to the islands off Africa like Madagascar and Reunion islands.  This points to an ancient lineage now widely separated deal to unsuitable habitat or effects of geological past.  Canary Islands flora evolved from extension of East African flora separated by the Sahara desert.  Its very isolated existence in China is particularly interesting. Surely, there must be a few suitable habitat between China and Africa that's comfortable enough for a fern during ice age.  

From a hobbyist perspective, it is a very small and compact growing fern.  The scaly, crispy or perhaps more aptly brittle texture of mature frond is distinctive. The fronds rattle like a windchime of thin seashells on a string. Its texture reminds me of Equisetum. Its internals filled with silica. I purchased this fern from a rooftop nursery at Ikebukuro Shopping Mall in August this year. Cost me 2000Yen!  Fortunately, it manages to grow well under tropical conditions. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Deutorocohnia brevifolia

This miniature deserves to be more popular.  I often wonder why it is not part of cactus and succulent offering afterall some of the assortment offered can be rather slow growing plants.  This dry growing bromeliad originates from Argentina and Bolivia. It has been in cultivation for a long time, in particular in dry gardens of mediterranean climate.  I have seen it grown outdoors at Huntington BG in California. Hermann Jacobsen has it in his classic Lexicon of Succulent plants (a wonderful grandfather of succulent books for the hobbyist).  It detests wet or compacted mix and does best in a gritty and free draining media.  While each rosette is only around 1", it eventually offsets and forms a mould given good strong light, time and space.  Be sure not to accidentally brush against or fall in the pot, the needle sharp pointed leaves can really draw blood.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Impatiens cinnabarina

This small and delicate impatiens comes from Kimboza area, Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania.  Its habitat is limestone outcrops at low altitudes.  The tuber forming root system is probably an adaptation to survive occasional dry spells. This young plant of about 5-6 mths old just flowered for the first time.  There is a very distinctive blotch at the base of the lower united petals.  Unhappily, the flower last a short 1 day... maybe 2 days.  The picture was taken before i left for work and by evening the flower was on the floor. The broad slivery-green leaves are attractive too. I. walleriana is more rewarding as a flowering bedding plant... but if you want miniature and delicate beauty would recommend I. cinnabarina. It is one of the very very few smaller impatiens that can survive occasional drought.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Habenaria lindleyana

I wrote about this beautiful Habenaria lindleyana 1 year back. ( The parent plant featured went into dormancy in december 2007 forming 3 tubers. 1 big and 2 small tubers.  This second generation tubers have once again grown very nicely over 2008 and reward me with a beautiful crop of flowers!  Due to accidental neglect during a hot spell and an attack of spider mites, the bigger plant as aborted flowered and has since went into dormancy forming a new single tuber. Hopefully, i would be able to increase the number of new tubers and hence new plants for 2009.  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nervilia aragoana

This is one of the most wide-ranging orchid in the world... recorded from Deccan, India all the way across subtropical Asia to Ryukyu Island, Japan in the North and Pacific Islands of Guam, Fiji, Niue to the South and even further east to Samoa.  

My beautiful N. aragoana originates from peninsular Malaysia, which is in between the 2 extremes of India and Pacific Islands.  It is like a miniature Gunnera or Petasites from cool temperate zone contained in a 4" pot.  During the growing season a new leaf grow from a underground globular tuber; as the leaf mature and "harden", new-stolon like root runners grow from the base of the leaf stalk into loose humus rich soil to form new tubers. It is an easy terrestial orchid that require generous watering and humidity during the vegetative growing season and a bit of a dry-out between watering during the dormant stage. Depending on origins and habitat and general health of the orchid, the leaf can range from 2" to 7" across. The flowers are nothing much to talk about. Since i've only a single clone.. it seems to have an ability to self pollinate for the last few terminal flowers to propagate ifself when cross fertilization mechanism is not available.

An unfolding young leaf:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pyrrosia lingua

This fern is notionally tagged Pyrrosia lingua. Despite my efforts of digging into some fern literature and combing through images on the net.. i can just say it is probably a miniature form of P. lingua. It is a beautiful xeric/resurrection fern. When it is water-stressed, the fronds curl-up exposing the copper/silver underside (top).  Give it a good drenching, it revives very quickly (bottom).

The new fronds appear to be covered with whitish trichomes, showing special adaption to get atmospheric humidity.  

This beautiful fern was given to me and it is said to have originated from China. It is remarkably adaptable and heat tolerant; having survived 37 C tropical heat and drought without tissue damage:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sedum booleanum

When i first saw this plant at the rooftop C&S nursery/shop at Seibu Ikebukuro, Tokyo, i told myself it must be a crassula sp. With a compact crassula-like plant, the odds of it surviving tropical Singapore is very low.  The general rule of thumb - anything white, tight and compact is doomed from the start. Still it is too charming and must be tried and tested. Well, it turned out to be a sedum from subtropical Mexico which is a good start versus crassula sp from temperate S. Africa.  The Japanese harakana script had it phonetically translated as S. "boulesnum" which is very close to the published latin name of S. booleanum. This species is described from Nuevo Leon, Mexico and it occurs in gypsum outcrops.  It is unique and special being very similar to habit of Villadia. (Go to this wonderful website and search for S. booleanum in the botanical database).

After growing for 3 mths, it has retained its compact form and colour; something to cheer about for a sedum occuring at 1340 m a.s.l!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Glottiphyllum depressum

It is a surprise to me that this tongue-mesemb can grow and flower in Singapore. My first encounter was in a Taiwan nursery that had them grown in a flat in a gravelly mix. It was growing in full sun and also expose to monsoon rains. But apparently enjoying the conditions with numerous flowers. The second encounter was at Shanghai botanical gardens the following year.

G. depressum as species name suggests lies flat or prostate.   The soft heavy leaves can be easily damaged or bruised, making them unsightly. In term of size, this is a giant relative to lithops.  The leaves are about 3" long, flowers 1.2" across.  All parts are bigger, the seed pods and even the seeds are bigger.  I even managed to germinate few old seeds traps in a rotting seed capsule and nurse a seedling to about 2 cm with secondary leaves. 

Will probably try to test grow different species from genus here next year. There are afterall a few species stretching from Little Karoo east into the summer rainfall area of Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Aloe hemmingii

Well, i consider this one of the most beautiful Aloe.  It is a miniature, comfortably growing in a 3.5" pot. Like most good things in life, it is a relatively slow grower and does not give offsets or "pups" readily. This species is native to Somalia, around the hilly terrain around Hargeisa, at Horn of Africa. It closely resembles A. jucunda, a species that is more frequently offered probably because it grows faster and offsets easily.  Unlike A. jucunda which gets sunburn or melt down on exposure to strong direct sun, A. hemmingii looks best and bronzes ifself in full sun. 

Cultivation is relatively easy. Very well draining mix and general neglect!  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bergeranthus multiceps

Permanently warm temperatures above 25°C is almost certain death for keeping mesembs. Surprise, surprise, one compact mat forming mesemb, purchased from the famous Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand, just flowered for me. I've seen the bud for a couple of days and am ready to shoot under gentle morning light. But the flower remains close and a few petals extending out not unlike a clam that has trapped a few petals! When i returned from work one early evening around 5 pm the flower is opened. The timing is unusual as most mesemb open their flowers in the morning. There are numerous yellow flowering mesembs in a family with 135 genera and about 1900 species.. it would be impossible to land on a identification. 

Well, there are 2 important clues: 
(1) it must come from the lowlands, summer rainfall area; being successful here on the equator 
(2) flower opens in the evening

Refering to my handy copy of Mesembs of the World by Gideon Smith, Briza Publisher (1998).  Bergeranthus flowers only in late afternoon and close before midnight and is restricted exclusively to the eastern cape near the coast between Port Elizabeth in the west and up to East London and Queenstown. Doing some websearch, the leaf shape and plant habit best matches B. multiceps.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Testing out new Echeverias & allies

This is a tray of newly potted cuttings of Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Pachyphytum, Sedum, xCremnopetalum, xGraptoveria,, xSedeveria sp  I have always like rosetted species from the crassulaceae family.  Have been doing some research and compile a list of desirable low altitude species between subtropical belt ie. between the tropic of cancer and capricorn.  I come up with a list of mainly Mexican species which deserved to be tested here under tropical conditions.  I challenge a sharp-eye expert to spot 2 pots of non-crassulaceae!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hoya endauensis

Hoya species has been climbing about on my wall together with some of my native miniature orchids.  The leaves are small and long shoots or vines are also more contained. This clone has entirely smooth leaf margin versus wavy leaf margins in clones available in US and European collection.  It retains the same characteristics under different growers. The compactness and smallness is the main reason that i kept it. I have given cuttings to a couple of friends and also send long climbing shoots to the bin but it has never flowered over 3 or 4 years.  When it did 2 weeks ago, it lasted less than 2 days. The umbel naturally faces the ground.  I had to "right" it up to avoid using the bright sky as backdrop.  Each flower is just 8 mm across.. small.  

There is some debate as to it's origins; i recollected it was picked up on a fallen/rotting twig on a road up to a radio/tv broadcasting station between Kahang-Jemaluang road in Johor, Malaysia while my friend insisted it was picked up in the Panti area.  Well, it probably does not matter, the 2 localities are just 80 km or so apart in Johor State sharing a common lowland rainforest habitat.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pyrrosia hastata

Am normally not into ferns. Perhaps being snobbish, they are like easy common houseplants that thrive under a regime of lavish watering.  Being a succulent enthusiast there are few places for moisture loving ferns. Actually there are many drought tolerant or xeric ferns.  Their survival strategy is different from succulents; succulent stores water while xeric ferns curls and dries up and resurrects when water is available. Nowadays, i've been slowly adding on xeric ferns to my xeric theme collection.

This fern was acquired recently during a trip to Japan.  My Japanese friend was keeping this fern in full sun on his rooftop.  Japanese summer can be terribly hot and humid. I was literally melting on his rooftop and thermometer registered 37°C. This fern Pyrrosia hastata was clearly adaptable, the leaves curled backwards exposing a beautiful rusty brown patch of spore bearing bodies (above photo, view of the underside). The potting media was almost bone dry. I thought it would make a good companion plant together with succulents.

This is a photograph of a well watered specimen from the top. 
This species come from Southern China and extend to Southern Korea and Japan. It grows on exposed rocky places. This explains its tolerance to both extreme summer and winter temperatures. Eastern Asia experienced wet summers and dry winters. And hence it is a summer grower.  So far, it has given me many new fronds. It has also went through a couple of missed watering as it was placed at less frequent corner.  These unintentional drought regime would have killed most ferns.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

xGraptosedum 'Francesco Baldi'

This is amongst the 'survivors'.  With suggestions from crassulaceae discussion group, i think it is probably xGraptosedum 'Francesco Baldi'. This is a cross between Graptopetalum paraguayense and Sedum pachyphyllum. It is unlikely that i can ever get confirmation from its flowers; the heat tolerant parent G. paraguayense never flowers here in Singapore.  The leaf shape and taller growth comes from S. pachyphyllum. G. paraguayense contributes to the broader leaves and pinkish coloration.  This is widely offered for sale without label and occasionally can be labelled 'Pink Beauty'.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

xGraptosedum 'Bronze'

This brightly colorful and beautiful succulent was purchased from Home Depot, Fairfax, VA.  It was amongst a nice range of cacti and succulents supplied by Altman Plants.  After 7 months of acclimatizing in Singapore, 1 out of 4 of my selection perished.  This is one of the survivors. I had no idea what it is. My initial guesses are Sedum, xGraptoveria and xPachyveria.  Fortunately, there are many amateur experts in the succulent hobbyist discussion groups where i can approach to get identification help.  In this case, i posted photographs to this the crassulaceae discussion at yahoogroups.  General consensus has it identified as xGraptosedum 'Bronze' which is an intergeneric cross of Graptopetalum paraguayense and Sedum stahlii.  G. paraguayense from lowland Veracruz, Mexico passes on heat tolerance genetics while S. stahlii deepens or darkens the coloration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kalanchoe longiflora

This very heat and wet tolerant species comes from KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa. The new leaves are strongly covered with thick white bloom which "crack" like fine china.  I had this species for many years and it has not flowered once. Till this day i don't know provenance of this species in Singapore. Have nevered seen it amongst dutch or local (Cameroun Highlands) cactus & succulents imports. I took a cutting on a planter outside someone's house next to the road. It was rambling on the surface rocky soil of a very root bounded planter.  Those are the days without internet and online catalogue.  Your plant sources are nearer home... hoping that your regular neighbourhood nursery bring in some interesting stuff. It would have been whiter have i kept it under full shelter, as it has proven to be wet hardy... i had to give the premium shelter space to other more sensitive succulents.  Here's a the view from the top:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Huernia kennedyana

Was very pleasantly surprised this morning when i saw my small Huernia kennedyana in flower. I had to photograph it before before the rain clouds blocked out the nice morning sun! Didn't even got a chance to preview my snaps as i had to rush to work. This is a very distinctive Huernia. The stems are very short and almost globular. For scale, the plant is in a 2" pot. It will surely take a while before it matt-over the square pot. First described by John Lavranos and is found around Cradock area, East Cape, South Africa.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Plectranthus socotranus

The only member of Plectranthus that i knew until recently is P. amboinicus (Indian Mint, French Thyme, Soup Mint etc). This is a genus in which many species have aromatic or pungent leaves. P. socotranus is not an exception. It has very strong scented leaves and it smells like "Vicks". You don't have to bruise or crush the leaves to release the smell. A mere touch or brush against the roundish felted succulent leaves will release the scent. The scent smells like a mixture of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol and it will stay on your fingers.

The species epithlet suggests it comes from the island of Socotra off the Arabian Peninsular. The write-up from New or noteworthy species from Socotra and Abd al Kuri (Part of the Hooker's Icones Plantarum) recorded that it is found on the limestone plateau above 460m, being fairly abundant and in open patch amongst Croton thickets. Despite its hill habitat, it takes kindly to our warm lowland conditions and some exposure to tropical rain.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kalanchoe somaliensis

There are many more species of kalanchoe that are more amendable or more correctly adaptable to continuously hot and humid tropical environment. K. somaliensis is one of them. Recent literature has placed it under one of the numerous synomyns of K. marmorata; in flower it may be a K. marmorata, so far it has not flowered. From the heat tolerance point of view, this is definitely not a typical K. marmorata. I had given at least 2 tries to K. marmorata from 2 different sources hoping to get a warm tolerant clone. They quickly succumbed to the weather and rightly so coming from 1200-1400 m montane zone of East Africa. K. somaliensis does have some semblance to K. marmorata; imagine the later without purple marbled markings and more pruinose. It probably comes from a warm area and dry habitat. The leaves develop even more intense white-blue pruinose under full sun as protection against sunburn. This clone comes to me from France.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kalanchoe synsepala

This is one of the more unusual Kalanchoe being the only species that produces stolon like strawberry. It is widely distributed in central plateau of Madagascar. We do have a regular K. synsepala clone that has been grown here in Singapore for a long time. It is a vigorous plant but without the cool and change in the daylight hours of changing seasons, it does not flower. Interestingly, this particular clone from the lowlands of southern Madagascar is more amendable to hot tropical conditions and it rewards me with an inflorescence. The plant is redder and the leaf lamina is covered with fine felt whereas typical species has smooth leaf. I thought the flowers would have expired when i went away for 2 weeks, but it turned out to be very lasting.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Orostachys japonica

Sempervivum? No, Sempervivum is not found beyond Asia minor and the Caucasus. Other genera of crassulaceae from Japan are Orostachys, Sedum i think this is an Orostachys. This compact rosetted succulent was found growing on rocks near the sea at Utoro, Hokkaido, Japan. Orostachys are biennials - they die after flowering in the 2nd year. The intense red and extreme clustering of leaves in the top photo is an indicative sign of emerging stem inflorescence in autumn. There are few accompanying plants in the harsh rocky habitat besides Phedimus kamtschaticus (Sedum aizoon ssp kamtschaticum), Artemisia sp and some annual members of the compositae. I can imagine the succulent rosette of leaves buried under at less a foot of snow! Based on internet photos and description from Flora of China, i think it is O. japonica. It is a widespread species from Eastern China extending to Japan, Korea and Russia.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Phedimus kamtschaticus

This picture was taken in-situ when i went on a 2 weeks vacation (. No, i did not travel to an exotic place called Kamchatka in the far eastern Russia. It was taken at Utoro near Shiretoko national park at Hokkaido, Japan. Frankly, i never heard of this small town. It serves as a getway to the Shiretoko national park and cruiseliners take tourists out to tip of Shiretoko peninsula (Cape Shiretoko) from this point. It is growing on coastal rocks around cruiseliner pier in full sun. I lift this description from Flora of China 8: 218–221. 2001.

Phedimus kamtschaticus (Fischer) ’t Hart in ’t Hart & Eggli,
Evol. & Syst. Crassulac. 168. 1995.
堪察加费菜 kan cha jia fei cai
Sedum kamtschaticum Fischer & C. A. Meyer, Index Sem. Hort. Petrop. 7: 54. 1840;
Aizopsis kamtschatica (Fischer) Grulich; Sedum aizoon Linnaeus subsp. kamtschaticum (Fischer) Fröderström.
Herbs perennial. Rootstock branched, thickened, woody. Stems mostly simple, ascending, 15–40 cm, sometimes papillate. Leaves alternate or opposite, rarely 3-verticillate; leaf blade oblanceolate, spatulate, or obovate, 2.5–7 × 0.5–3 cm, base narrowly cuneate, margin apically
sparsely serrate to crenate, apex obtuse-rounded. Inflorescence terminal. Flowers unequally 5-merous. Sepals lanceolate, 3–4 mm, base broad, apex obtuse. Petals yellow, lanceolate, 6–8 mm, abaxially keeled, apex acuminate and mucronate. Stamens 10, slightly shorter than petals; anthers orange. Nectar scales subquadrangular, minute. Carpels erect, equaling or slightly shorter than petals, adaxially gibbous, base connate for ca. 2 mm. Follicles stellately
horizontal. Seeds brown, obovoid, minute. Fl. Jun–Jul, fr. Aug–Sep.
Rocky slopes; 600–1800 m. Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol [Japan,
Korea, Russia].

It is so neat and nicely position that on first impression i thought it was planted. Anyway, there are annuals in planted troughs. More of this species growing on other less accessible rocks around that area. They survived winter dying down to a rootstock. I reckon the place will be snow covered for at least 4-5 mths.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pure Beauty - Habenaria myriotricha/medusae

This is a jaw-dropping beauty from Laos or Thailand. I've seen it once in Bangkok and that beautiful memory stayed with me. Recently, i was very lucky to purchase what i suspected is a H. myriotricha plant from a local orchid nursery. They had imported some plants from Thailand in preparation for a plant exhibition cum trade fair. Keeping my fingers crossed... and it turned out to the plant of my dreams.

According to Seidenfaden, there are 3 species - H. medusae from northern Sumatra, H. myriotricha from Thailand/Laos & H. beccarii from Sulawesi. H. medusae and H. myriotricha are almost identical while H. beccarii has broader and shorter fringes on the side lobes. Knowing that my plant originated from Thailand i'm sticking to H. myriotricha. The inflorescences is erect and measured 40-50 cm tall from ground. Each flower is about 3 cm across, with long graceful thin fringes on the sidelobes and a long spur.

Again this is a deciduous terrestial from monsoonal belt - Indochina, northern Sumatra, Sulawesi with a very distinct dry/wet season. When the plant is growing, water generously and feed it with dilute fertilizer regularly to promote strong growth and flowers. After flowering, once leaves start to yellow reduce watering as the plant prepares for dormancy by withdrawing starch from the leaves and stem to form the tuber. Slowly, water less and less. Once the tuber is fully form, it can be kept dry for about 3-4 mths.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eulophia andamanensis

Chances are you can find pseudobulbs of this species at general herbal, tuber, & bulb store at Bangkok's renowned Chatuchak market. Eulophia andamanensis is a widely distributed species throughout Thailand, into Indochina (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam), Myanmar (Tenasserim) and also Northern Malaysia. My gut feel is it can adapt and spread on disturbed forest or grasslands just like Spathoglottis plicata occupying degraded land in Malaysia and Singapore.

Four or five years ago this guy in my neighbourhood gave me a fistful of pseudobulbs from his sad rotting clump. It thrives under general succulent care ie. if the plant is in leaf i water, else i don't. Over the course of 2 years, the pseudobulbs spread to fill two 12 inch pots. Typically, it stays dormant for about 4-5 mths. Only recently did it flower under severely underpotted condition. There appears to be 2 color forms (light green and brown) in the clumps.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Kalanchoe garambiensis

Acquired this species from a Taiwanese plant collector in 2006. He told me this is an taiwanese endemic, restricted to the southern coastal rocks and cliffs. One would assume that it is relatively easy to keep this plant coming from a subtropical coastal habitat that experiences deluge of monsoon rain. It proves to be ephemeral in the sense that it can grow rapidly and then loose its roots and cling on to life in the form of small bits of shoots or stems. I suppose it may be the same in the wild.

This is the write-up from

Kalanchoe garambiensis Kudo 台南伽蓝菜
Description from
Flora of China
Herbs 5-8 cm tall, glabrous. Root stout, sometimes branched. Leaves petiolate; leaf blade spatulate, 1-1.8 × 0.3-0.7 cm, base tapered, margin entire, apex obtuse to shortly acute. Inflorescences laxly
corymbiform, cymose, 3-10-flowered. Sepals ovate-oblong, ca. 5 mm, glandular, apex acute. Corolla yellow; tube slender, ca. 2 cm, base urceolate; lobes broadly ovate, apex obtuse, subconcave, or acute. Fl. Apr, fr. Aug.
This species could be regarded as a very depauperate form of Kalanchoe integra. See J. Jap. Bot. 78: 252. 2003: Kalanchoe spathulata var. garambiensis (Kudo) H. Ohba.
* Among rocks. S Taiwan.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Echeveria carnicolor

A local succulent enthusiast purchased this plant from San Francisco. This is America's equivalent of 3 pots for S$10 sale offer at a small nursery. It proves to be a very adaptable and vigorous Echeveria. It offsets readily (above photo)and the bracts on the offset drops most readily. These bracts will take root almost immediately to give new plants (photo below: note another mini plantlet is already growing from a leaf bract bottom right).

The color varies a lot. If grown in shade, the purplish tint is less intense. Under the same condition of light and soil, young plants are also less intensely colored. Unlike other Echeverias, this species can tolerate shade and does not etiolate or become "leggy". I decided this is probably E. carnicolor or a hybrid of possibly Echeveria `Lavender Hill` which is E. carnicolor x E. atropurperea. Both species come from lowland coastal state of Veracruz, Mexico. No wonder it can survive in Singapore!

Take a look at a very extensive photo album of Cok & Ine Grootscholten. I should n't have gave this nursery a miss when i was in Netherlands. A great regret till this day.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tropical Echeveria?

If you see an Echeveria as white as this one on sale chances are it is a cool growing species which will collapse under Singapore hot and humid climate. E. lauii is arguably one of whitest and prettiest of echeverias. We have to thank nature for this anomaly. It is found just at a low altitude of 500 m a.s.l in a hot and dry ravine of Rio Salado - Quiotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. This is a relatively slow growing species and it rarely offsets. Fortunately, it can be propagated from leaves and bracts.

Having found a rosette forming member of the crassulaceae family triggers in me a desire to get other Echeverias that may have a good chance of surviving. My shortlist of potential low growing species: E. atropurpurea, E. carnicolor, , E. diffractens, E. nuda, E. racemosa. And if you have any of these species, please contact me!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Impatiens sp Kanchanaburi Province

Thailand is rich in Impatiens species and there are now more being found and properly described. Since Thailand is home to I. mirabilis - a "giant" stem caudiciform from the karst in south, one would expect more pachycaul Impatiens to be found in the Indo China region with rich in karst habitats. Yes, that's indeed the case. Some new pachycaul species like I. pachycaulon from Laos & I. angulata from Southern Western China. Am not able to put a name to this species from Kanchanaburi province, Thailand, except that it is probably in the same section as I. kerriae. It differs from I. mirabilis in that the inflorescence is non-terminal. The stem is also exceptionally woody amongst known pachycaul Impatiens. From a hobbyist point of view, i would group it with I. verrucifer, I. angulata sharing the same habit, general form and flowering characteristics.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Caralluma hexagona

This very small dainty stapeliad was purchased from the famous Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand. It is a strongly branching plant with forms a small mound or mat over time. I was trying to put an identification to it for some time. At first i thought it was C. greenbergiana then C. foulcheri-delboscii and also possibly C. shadhbana or it could be C. hexagona as well. Yes, i was nearly right. The taxonomist as least according to the chapter Caralluma by B. Muller & Albers in Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants - Asclepiadaceae has reduced all the difficult to spell species epithets to something easy to remember C. hexagona. Let's keep our fingers crossed... you never know when somebody might do some splits or revisions or unearth some earlier published species name than will take precedence according to International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

This is widely distributed species from the Arabian peninsular (Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman). Since it is probably more adaptable given its habitat range that may explain why my clone is heat tolerant. A general rule of thumb is to propagate it during the vegetative phase; it can sometimes collapse without a good reason, remnant branches can prove difficult to root.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Orbea dummeri

On my second attempt keeping O. dummeri, it rewards me with strickingly beautiful flowers. Perhaps it is a more heat tolerant clone after going through a rot or thrive selection process over Southern Taiwan's hot 36 C summers. According to Monograph of Orbea and Ballyanthus by P. V. Bruyns in Systematic Botany Monographs Vol.63, it is a species higher and drier parts of Kenya, and other neighbouring countries of the Rift Valley occuring from 950 - 1600m. The plant in my first failed attempt came from chiller greenhouse of the West, and it quickly perished.

Over the last couple of years, i come to realized that stapeliads are not so difficult to keep if they can tolerate heat in the high 30Cs. Should they look limp and a bit desiccated after their peak growth or flowering season... let them be. They just need a dry rest with a bit of water just to keep them from unrecoverable desiccation. During this period, look out signs of deadly pest like spider mites. Spider mites can easily reduced plants to sad resting state look! When new growth starts, water & fertilize. And if it is a tempermental species take cuttings and keep an extra pot!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mexican Poppy

We were trying to find a short cut to the bank of the Irrawaddy river at Mandalay, Myanmar. On the map it seemed easy enough to cross several blocks and we will get there. Actually, it was easy enough... but we were not prepared for the reality. It cuts through a very poor part of town, full of shacks assembled from any materials that the dwellers can lay their hands on. On top of that... there's no river view! We were greeted with an earthen great wall - a levee that was about 10 m above the shanty town! As i was scaling the dusty loose earth i couldn't help imagining a raging river laden with flood waters during the wet monsoon threatening to breach the levee and wipe out the shanty district. Walking on top of the levee i saw some bamboo dwellings build on bamboo rafts with various buoys on the swallows of a drying river. Some 20 m away i spotted a very distinctively sliver white pricky plant (above) facing the drying river. It had beautiful bright yellow poppy-like flower. My instinct was to look for seed pods but it was a young plant with the first flowers. Its existence would be ephemeral given its loose footing on a levee. Sad thoughts aside..would you agree that this plant should deserve a place in a dry garden:
After some research, it is a well-known weed Argemone ochroleuca from Mexico and had a string of common names like Mexican poppy, pricky-thistle and so forth and has naturalized to most of the seasonally dry areas of the world. Despite its weedy status, i was looking forward to grow this plant but getting this weed proved elusive. Today with luck, i am given a handful of seeds thanks to my friend who had just visited a semi-desert area in India. Okay, luck was secondary, i actually prep my friend with a list of what to look out for when he's there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Caralluma speciosa

This is one of the very old succulents that i managed to keep alive. Got it "once-upon-a-time" from Out-of-Africa Plants when general succulent prices were much lower. That was before the US housing bubble, when oil prices are in the low twenties, the price of Caralluma somalica in the catalogue was probably at ~$8 and US oversea postage was relatively low and then surface mail option was still available. It wanted to flower couple of times over the past years but the buds aborted. The La Nina cooling effect of 2007 has triggered it to flower over Nov'07-Feb'08 period.

It did not turned out to be C. somalica as labelled but C. speciosa. The perfectly symmetrical ball of inflorescence about 10 cm across is very impressive. Well, the foetid rotten flesh odor will get your attention within a couple of meters. The smell attracts big carrion flies. It took me many tries to get a decent picture - the corona has bright luminescent quality and contrast poorly with the yellow corolla tube; either the corona is overexposed or the dark maroon corolla lobes are underexposed.

This is one of the big clumping Caralluma found in tropical East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda & Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, probably also in Djibouti or Eritrea) on dry rocky savanna or semi-desert lowland habitat. C. speciosa and other like C. adenensis, C. somalica, C. acutangula (C. retrospiciens) and C. edithae are similar species that can be "grouped" together. Now, am awaiting another big clumping Caralluma sp. purchased from Bangkok to flower.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hoya imbricata

Hoya imbricata is endemic to The Philippines. It is found on tree trunks at low to medium altitudes in Bontoc, Rizal, and Laguna Provinces in Luzon and in Busuanga. A thin wiry stem climbs up bare trunk and bears convex disc-shaped leaves up to 12 cm across. If the leaves cannot find a flat surface to wrap around, it will form a half-pouch. In cultivation with limited slab climbing for the growing plant, this takes away the full beauty of this Hoya. Some forms are more attractive with contrasting marble on intense reddish-purple leaves. Ants can take shelter under the leaves or in the pouch. It parallels its cousin Dischida cochleata in its myrmecophytic habit.

The flowers are borne on leafless stems; velvety, and creamy-white 8 to 10 millimeters in diameter. The umbel is geotropic (facing down) and that makes it challenging to photograph. See if you can spot the copper wire that was use to right it up to face the light. This was a 2-leaf cutting gift that my friend brought back from the famous Bangkok's Chatuchak Market. Back then, it was a rare hoya.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chirita drakei in flower

This is a follow-up post for Chirita drakei in Feb 2008. After making my comments in a public blog that i think it will not flower for me, the plant has decided to do just that in end March 2008! Unusually large bracts protect the buds. I failed to detect any hint of fragrance or carrion. The pollen is not exposed and it requires an insect to eat or destroy the anther caps before releasing the dusty pollen. The self-pollination attempt is so far so good with 3 thin long capsule developing. The true test for viable seeds is still months away.

Oeceoclade calcarata

This is probably one of the more commonly offered Oeceoclades species in the orchid market. I got my from Burleigh Park Orchids an Austrialian nursery by sharing a shipment with other local orchid hobbyists. Once again, the label says it is O. decaryana. Many other offers and photos on the web suggest it is O. calcarata. This is my first and oldest pot of Oeceoclades. And one of the most prolific growers with multiple growing points. Even the bud on top of a old pseudobulb is capable of giving rise to an new offset - bottom right. It is extremely succulent and drought tolerant with very strong thick roots covered with exceptionally spongy velamen. Unfortunately, it is flower shy; a firm identification will have to wait. Garay & Taylor* mentions that the type specimen is without precise locality, probably again from deciduous forest of northern or western Madagascar.

This post and the last few posts cover my Oeceoclades collection. If someone is going to order an Oeceoclades petiolata from ISI 2008 offering contact me!

*The Genus Oeceoclades by L. Garay & P. Taylor in Botanical Museum Leaflets Harvard University, Vol. 24, No. 9.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oeceoclades spathulifera?

This is species very closely related to O. calcarata. In my view, without flowering this orchid, it would be more appropriate to classify it as different colour variant of O. calcarata. The leaves are very thick, the surface is hard and shiny as if coated with clear varnish. The thick, hard pseudobulbs are distinctively 4-angled. I got it when it was a seedling and it came with a label O. spathulifera. It would not be wrong to say that it comes from the deciduous-scrub of western Madagascar.

Oeceoclades roseo-variegata

This is the type species that comes from near Diego Suarez, Montague des Francaise.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Oececlades

Got this beautiful form of O. roseovariegata through plant exchange. It is originated from "Berevo", which i presume is a village marker for locality. The cryptic reddish-marbled tesselation is regal. The leaf surface is also rather unusual for an orchid, it seems to be covered with a very fine felt or has minute projections. It is not "hairy". The type species comes from near Diego Suarez, Montague des Francaise; leaf margins is not as undulating in comparison.

The flowers are small, odourless and insignificant. My self pollination attempt was a failure. Given it's locality up in the northern most tip of Madagascar, reckon it should in theory get more rain and therefore can tolerate more water. At this point with only 1 pot, i'm in no hurry to push it for faster growth.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Oeceoclades peyrotti

I went to the 2007 Johor Orchid Show without expectation; but was really lucky and managed to pick up an unexpected gem Oeceoclades peyrotti. The vendor was selling 6 mth old seedlings out of flask. He purchased this flask of new offering while attending some orchid conference or meeting in France or was it somewhere Europe i cannot recall. This newly described species has been around since 1974, recollected again in the 1990s and was growing in collection of jardin des Cedres at St Jean Cap Ferrat in Southern France. Again, it is a species from the dry deciduous forest of southwestern Madagascar. **

As i was able to successfully nurse from 2 to 4 pseudobulbs it has paid back my small investment. Cultivation is not different from the other oeceoclades. Need to dry out between watering. Potting in very coarse free-draining inorganic mix of rocks, lime or charcoal ... basically any coarse filler material, and filling interstitial space with finer sand or humus.

** Contribution à l'étude des Orchidaceae de Madagascar et des Mascareignes. XXXI. Espèces et combinaisons nouvelles dans les genres Oeceoclades, Eulophia et Eulophiella. J. Bosser & P. Morat. Adansonia, Sér. 3 2001. 23(1): 7-22.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Puzzling Oeceoclades Sp

I got this Oeceoclades seedling from Isobyl La Croix when she offered seed-raised orchids for sale at least 5 years ago. The label suggests O. ambongensis which i had assumed to be correct. Only last year did i manage to xerox a copy of the paper titled The Genus Oeceoclades by L. Garay & P. Taylor in Botanical Museum Leaflets Harvard University, Vol. 24, No. 9. It is a taxonomic paper that suggests a need to split Oeceoclades from Eulophia... a note under O. ambongensis = syn E. ambongense caught my eye: "related species of O. maculata alliance". Looking through a couple of available papers.. it appears that my O. ambongensis have more affinities to O. decaryana. I cannot rule out O. ambongensis because i was not able to get hold of the original description of E. ambongense in an old obscure botanical publication!

The amazing find from websearch yields a mini-picture of a herbarium sheet of Eulophidium ambongense

Holotype of Eulophidium ambongense Schltr. Verified by Perrier de la Bâthie, H., 1950

From: West, sandy forest/wood. [Ouest: bois sablonneux], Manongarivo (Ambongo)

The wealth of online material has just help eliminate the O. ambongense possibility. I just have to wait for flowers to confirm if it is O. decaryana or O. aff*. decaryana! [*decaryana has distinctively 5-angular pseudobulbs]

It is definitely a slow grower. Enjoys drying out between watering. Onion-like 1-1.5" succulent pseudobulbs helps it tide-over long drought much better than fellow madagascan euphorbias! In fact, a distinct period of drought triggers formation of new buds for next season's growth.