Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Visit to Kubah

It's been another busy week or so here in Kuching. I am getting more comfortable in the Sarawak Biodiversity Herbarium, but also I got a chance to visit Kubah National Park over the weekend.

One of the interesting things I love about the herbarium here is their technique for mounting specimens. Sure, they use some glue, but check out this exquisite stitch work done on the inflorescence of a grass ---- a kind of weaving really.  It is a work of art!

Awesome, isn't it?
Anyway, we took a bus to Kubah National Park and stayed in a chalet/ cabin  (= palace) there. The park is about 30 km from Kuching and is half-way up a mountain, so it is cooler and rainier than it is in town.  When it's not raining, it's misty & and if it's not misty, then your're not a Kubah National Park. It is beautiful and greee-eeeen!  Odoardo Beccari, a famous Italian naturalist (ca. 1870), made his home there and amassed a collection of palms there --- it is palm rich, that's for sure. They are beautiful and varied in their shapes and heights, but many of them are also very well-armed.  There were also all sorts of fruit from the trees in the family Dipterocarpaceae --- dipterocarps -- tall trees that I couldn't see the foliage of, but their fruits were delightful! Like acorns with propellers!   There were all sorts of them with different numbers of wings and different sizes, so I know there were a lot of different species!
We hiked about 5 miles one day --- it took us about 6 hours!  The wet paths climbed and descended and luckily were supplied with ropes that you could pull yourselves up with -- bridges were like wet pickets -- slick and thrilling -- no need to hurry over them! -- and in crossing them we saw breath-taking beauty and mystery.  We heard a lot of fauna, but only saw a small green snake -- a pit viper?  I'll post it and wait for confirmation! At the end of the trail was a rain shelter and an unusual plant -- an Amorphophallus hewittii. It's herbaceous, but it comes off looking like a small tree.  My husband Dave took a picture of the foliage -- near my Clemson bag -- I am in the background (in the rain shelter) wearing my old-lady on safari costume.
dipterocarp fruit -- like a winged acorn
Amorphophallus hewittii  

chalet in Kubah National Park

pit viper?

armed rattan, climbing palm

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Creepy Finger Fern

This is a short entry -- the week has been so full -- but I just wanted not to forget a picture of something I call the Creepy Finger Fern. Its botanical name is Gleichenia truncata -- it is ALWAYS better to have the scientific name at hand -- of course! -- but sometimes you see something so intriguing, and if you don't have the scientific name at the beginning, you make up a common name because you have to call it something! You really ought to find out the real name right away when you do this  -- if you don't, you might find yourself with a whole group of plants you "know" -- (well, by sight anyway) but with names like Grandpa's Nose, Scratchy Heart and (now) Creepy Finger Fern.  Gleichenia truncata  is common here, I was told by my friend and herbarium specimen mounter Angelina Nguan. When I saw it on the sloped roadsides near the forest edges, I did a double take.  It has the wildest form! It is a tangle fern, with its fronds forking over and over again.  It looks like green blood vessels or an alien life form that Captain Kirk (remember him???) might come in contact with.  A picture is worth a thousand of my words easily, so I will just post the image here!
 It is now February and New Years is only 18 days away.  I bought some new years cards -- I know they are not plants -- but I wanted to show them off anyway.  Chinese New Years is only days away from Valentines Day --- and these cards look more like Valentines than Valentines do!  They are so charming and you will notice, it will be the year of the goat!

Gleichenia truncata a very striking fern that to me looks like green blood vessels or creepy fingers.

Enchanting cards for the New Year!   Those born in this year of the goat: Kind, Helpful, Artistic & Pessimistic, Indecisive & Passive, but they have fantastic luck!  (not baaaaaaaad!)