Sunday, 17 May 2009

afgekia mahidoliae

Ever come across words which you think you cannot pronounce just by looking at them? I experience that all the time particularly with scientific names, which as you know can be particularly long. Perhaps i'm just a little dyslexic. But till today, I still have problems uttering names like costus "LUCANUSIANUS" or "HEDYCHIUM LONGICORNUTUM".

Maybe I just lack confidence. Maybe i'm just so afraid to get it wrong or to be embarrassed by my mispronunciation. After all, the names are in itself not easy to remember, let alone pronounce. Although I am often amazed by people who know their plants, I do get annoyed when I hear people rattle off scientific names at nurseries, amongst friends etc. It just sounds so darn pretentious. Why should they even assume that people know what they are talking about? And why can't people just refer to the plants by their common names? Everyone knows what a Butterfly Ginger is but not everyone realises that it's also known as Hedychium coronarium.

I remember coming across this somewhat pudgy civil-servant looking woman several times at WF just vomitting all the names she knew. All she got from some of the staff were blank stares! But she didn't relent and insisted on referring to the plants by their scientific names. So the staff had no choice but to look these names up in order to understand what she was looking for. I've seen quite a few plant snobs in my lifetime, but none could quite compare to this obnoxious tart!

Anyway, here's the name of a plant which unfortunately, does not appear to have a common name. The Afgekia mahidoliae.

Little is known of this small genus of large perennial climbing shrub which is native to Asia. I know that there are two forms; pink and purple flowering form, and that Lyndi has a specimen growing somewhere in her collection. According to what little information I found from the internet, it is considered to be a rare tropical plant found in limestone mountains in the western side of Thailand. Like the Vigna caracalla, it is also a climber in the pea family (Fabaceae). The plant possesses purplish and whitish pea-like florets in inflorescences which are usually in blooms during August to November. More information can be found here.

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