WEIRD AND WONDERFUL FLORA OF MALAYSIA

January 21, 2018

 
See if you can spot any of these:


1. Strangling fig
This is an epiphyte that germinates from a seed deposited by a bird on a high branch.
The seed, after germinating sends its roots down to the ground, and, as the roots
multiply, they eventually suffocate the host tree. Ultimately with no host to bear its
weight, the strangling fig also dies.


2. Rafflesia
This is the world’s largest flower. It can measure up to one metre (3.3 feet) across and
weigh up to 9 kgs (20 pounds). It was first discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr
Joseph Arnold in 1818 in southwestern Sumatra. Rafflesia is a parasite that uses a vine
as its host. When the plant is in full bloom, it has a faint stench of rotting meat that
attracts flies.

 

 


3. Pitcher Plants
Malaysia’s pitcher plants belong to the genus “Nepenthes”, a Latin word meaning “to
remove all sorrow.” Homer referred to it in his poem, “The Odyssey”, and legend has it
that Helen of Troy added the secretion of the pitcher plant to wine to enable men to
forget their anxiety and grief.
The Malay name for this plant is “periuk kera” (monkey’s cooking pot), which possibly
refers to the plant’s pot-like shape with a hollow.


4. Orchids
Known to humankind since 551 BC, the time of the Chinese sage, Confucius, these
exotic flowers have fascinated Chinese poets and philosophers for their beauty, purity
and grace. This “aristocrat” of flowers comes in many shapes, forms, colours and
patterns. There are an estimated 24,000 species of orchids in the world. Of these, 6000
are found in Asia and an estimated 1000 in Peninsular Malaysia. Orchids are hardy
plants which grow in the ground, on rocks, or perched on other plants and trees. There
are 2 basic types of orchids – terrestrials which grow with roots and epiphytes which
grow on tree trunks and branches.

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