Thursday, 1 July 2010

guest appearance out of nowhere

One of the things I enjoy most is driving around and stumbling upon unusual or 'lost' species of plants. By unusual or 'lost', I mean seldom seen in the wild or at the nurseries, or plants which used to flourish but are now 'lost' due to rapid development and urbanisation.

I stumbled upon this whilst driving along old Thomson Road, just around the fringes of Upper Pierce Reservoir. It was creeping wildly on the green wire fence which was erected by the government to prevent people from entering into the forested area. What caught my attention were these extremely showy flowers. Upon closer inspection of the flowers and leaves, I realised that this could be some sort of Bauhinia, but what exactly, I didn't know. After searching the web, i've concluded that this is probably the Bauhinia semibifida which has its origins in Malaysia. The question is, how did it get here? One plausible explanation is the fact that this was grown by former inhabitants of the area. The area which has been fenced off used to be a kampong because I do see remnants of former structures, old steps, wells and the abundance of fruit trees.

As i've not seen this growing anywhere or being sold commercially in any nursery, I took the liberty of taking some stem cuttings to cultivate but none have taken root so far. I guess i'll have to continue trying until I succeed. After all, I did manage to cultivate the Zingiber spectabile and Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum) from stem cuttings.

Another specimen I stumbled upon was this wonderful flowering shrub called Uraria crinita or Asian Foxtail. I was walking around Dairy Farm reserve taking macro photos of plants when I saw this single lavender inflorescence sticking out of a bed of green leaves. I was extremely excited because it was something I had not recognised, it looked very out of place but it was so darn beautiful. From the various searches on the web, I gathered that this shrub was probably planted by the former inhabitants of Dairy Farm, probably farmers, as this plant is usually grown for its medicinal qualities. I was not able to obtain a specimen, but as luck would have it, Lyndi had an extra plant lying around in her garden. It's now sitting proudly in my nursery. I guess that makes me a lucky guy! [Post-update 4 July 2011: Lyndi's plant died. But I managed to find one on sale at Hort Park] Neither of the above are native, but they were definitely planted by former inhabitants a long time ago.

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