Saturday, January 29, 2011

Erythropalum scandens: A most royal liana

Erythropalum scandens is a relatively uncommon liana in Singapore's rain forest today. Kulim (last photo below) and Petaling are some of the more illustrious local trees related to it in the family Olacaceae. Even if you do not know these trees, you probably heard of them by their namesake Malaysian towns. Littoral Hog Plum (Ximenia americana) - another family member - might ring a bell too.

Erythropalum scandens is a slender liana with fruits so showy as to make any keen gardener envious and eager for garden introduction. The fruit is actually a drupe enveloped entirely by an olive-green calyx which splits and recurves into irregular segments to reveal an electric burst of colours when ripe.

The inside of the calyx is a screaming red carpet upon which the royal indigo-blue seed sits like a resplendent king for all in audience to bow with adoration. Dangling freely as they do from boughs on high, I am disposed to think they attract winged creatures such as bats and birds for dispersal.

The liana climbs by peculiar tendrils which may either be singularly or doubly fashioned.

Fallen seeds expelled on the forest floor minus the coats. They reminded me of the proverbially-vain king adorned with an 'invisible coat', too proud to acknowledge his nakedness (Haha).

Note: The young leaves are known to be eaten by the Kammu Tribes.

Leaf and trunk of the garlic-smelling Kulim Tree (Scorodocarpus borneensis).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Speedy Dragonfly: Pseudothemis jorina

This dragonfly is a speed demon. The white-banded male loves to fly very fast and never ever seem to stop. For me, this is the first time seeing the yellow-banded female, and so different it proves to be.

Much thanks to Dr. Cheong Loong Fah who expertly identified it for me. For a brief moment, my excitement went up a few notches finding no matching species recorded in the guide book Dragonflies of Singapore by Tan Hung Bun et al. So, as it turns out, it is a species I have seen before and according to Dr. Cheong, not exactly rare but hard to capture on camera.

I am indeed lucky to cross path with this one perching restfully and have its photograph taken for all enthusiasts to see and to study. Enjoy!

[Found in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 12 Jan2011.]

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Human Affairs Naturally

They are human affairs naturally - Capitalism and Food Politics - but nothing short of an ecological learning for wanting to know them more as we do flowers and trees, seastars and worms, birds, butterflies and bees. I do believe they make essential reading for anyone who cares for the earth and wants to understand the depth and degree human impact has on the environment. These engaging books I thus recommend you, most delightfully, to weigh and consider the issues in today's world.

They can be found in our public libraries; readings guaranteed to make your train rides a breeze! Sample reviews below. Cheers!

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

Read Review

Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know by Robert Paarlberg

Read Review