Monday, January 14, 2013

Stephanotis maingayi rediscovered

No two field trips share the same complexion except in being extraordinary and special; where new things are learned and new insights gained. 

Last Sunday's unhurried exploration in MacRitchie forest is no exception. It is as extraordinary as I would like it to be. I need only to surrender to serendipity and have eyes as fresh as newly opened flowers. My heart feels light, my mind illuminates and I walk as tall as the trees. My forest, my home - my home sweet home. I love it with all my heart and might.

The first and only known local collection of Stephanotis maingayi was Hullett 147 at Changi (undated). A good sense of time, however, can be cultivated in knowing who Hullett was. 

Richmond William Hullett (his full name) was a most respected scholar and the longest serving headmaster of Raffles Institution in Singapore (1871-1906). Through 1880s and 1890s, Hullett was a prolific plant collector. He took every opportunity to collect and record exotic plants during breaks in the academic calendar for school holidays. His collecting work on Mount Ophir (Malaysia) is especially noteworthy. 

In sharing with you Stephanotis maingayi, I would like to draw you to Hullett's biography (found here) which speaks volumes of his great intellect and inspired presence which touched so many a student under his care. Among them were our respected forebears Tan Teck Soon and Lim Boon Keng. 

I leave with you here the nice warm feeling of rediscovering a long lost climber once recorded in Changi, now in MacRitchie. 

Fallen corolla, creamy white, withering yellow.
Green calyx on long stalk. Hullett's description: "Between
Changi Bangalow and Sungei Salarang covering the
whole jungle side. Flowers white as large as wine glass."
Coiling stem, slender and fine-hairy.
Clear sap
Leathery leaves, ovate to oblong.
Leaf base heart-shaped, basal veins joined.
Both surfaces and stalk fine-hairy.
United anthers. Read morphology of flower here.
A cut-away section showing the gynoecium.
Footnote: Stephanotis maingayi belongs to Apocynaceae Family. Perhaps Singaporeans should be more acquainted with the family. After all, our $1 coin is adorned with the image of the Periwinkle and the 50 Cents coin the Yellow Allamanda; both being plants of Apocynaceae.