Thursday, March 13, 2014

Solanum melongena - terung telunjuk

Terung (Malay) is a Solanum melongena of the nightshade family ( Solanaceae ).    It is known as eggplant for its resemblance of goose or hen’s egg.  It is also known as melongene, aubergine, brinjal, garden egg or guinea squash.

There are numerous varieties of terung.  Different varieties have different size, shape, and colour.   larger varieties weighing up to 1 kg.   Colours vary from white to yellow, green to dark purple, or with a colour gradient or strips.  Shapes come in round, oval, elongated, cylindrical etc.

It is divided into 3 major varieties : S. melongena var esculentum, the common terung ; S. melongena var depressum , the dwaft terung ; and S. melongena var serpentium, the snake terung.  In addition, a lot of subspecies and cultivar have been named.

Terung telunjuk, or also called terung kuning is a variety of S. melongena found in Malesia.  It is about 10cm in length, with ±3cm diameter.  Colour is light green with white stripes at bottom
  when immature, turn to yellow upon ripening.   Nevertheless, the flower is brilliantly purple in colour, same as flowers of other varieties.    

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ravenala madagascariensis

Ravenala madagascariensis, commonly known as Traveller’s Palm, is originated from Madagascar.  Despite its name, it is not a true palm ( Areacaceae ), but a member of the bird-of-paradise family ( Strelitziaceae ).  R. madagascariensis is the sole member of the genus Ravenala.

It is called Traveller’s Palm because the sheaths of the stems holds rainwater, which supposedly could be drink for needy travelers.   However, the fact is, the water trapped inside the sheaths is murky, black, smelly, and infested with mosquito larvae, and should not be consumed without prior purification and boiling.  Another possible reason for its name is that the fan tends to grow in a north-south orientation, providing a crude compass.  This is also not true as intensive observations on wild trees refuted the claim.

R. madagascariensis has enormous paddle-shaped leaves, resembling those of banana, borne on long petioles.  The leaves are aligned in a single plane, resulting in a fan-shape appearance.    

Flowers are pale-yellow in colour, similar to those of Strelitzia’s, but less showy and certainly less attractive.   Bracts are light green in colour.   The flowers when dried, attached to the bunch with the purplish fruit, which are similar to those of banana’s.

Traveller’s Palm can grow up to 16m in height.  Stems are simple, solitary, hardy and fibrous, up to 1” in diameter, in reminisce to a coconut’s stem.  As the tree grows, the dried older leaves at the bottom detached from the stem, similar to coconut’s.

Young plants emerged from the ground by the base of mother plant, a vegetative reproduction via suckling.  

Ruffed lemurs ( Lemur varius ),  are know to be the sole pollinator of Ravenala.  They have thought to have coevolved.

Ravenala madagascariensis is widely planted as ornamental tree.  Young, smaller plantlet can be trained as indoor plants.   It can tolerate most soil condition with good drainage.  It thrives best under full sun.   Care is minimal, as and when necessary to remove old fronds from the trunk.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Impatiens balsamina

凤仙花 is Impatiens balsamina, an annual plant of  the Balsaminaceae family.  In Malaysia, it is known as bunga keembung in Malay language.

It is native to southern Asia, but widely cultivated as an ornamental plant throughout tropical/sub-tropical Asia.  Due to its vigorous reproduction, it became invasive and noxious is many area.

Garden balsam is an annual plant capable to grow up to 1 meter in height.   It has thick but herbaceous stem.  The leaves are toothed-margin.  The flowers are brilliantly coloured with red, pink, purple or white.  Above all, the most fascinating and unforgettable feature is the explosive dehiscence seed capsules.

brilliantly coloured flower

seed pods

dehiscenced pod exposing seeds


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Landscape : Cover over Sarikei's Drain

Drain covers are not necessary made of concrete or plastic.   Wood can be an option if the material is easily available, economical feasible, durable and weather-proof.

Along Jalan Berek in Sarikei, the drain is covered by wooden cover made of cengal wood.   Cengal wood is one of the hardest wood in Malaysia, of the Neobalanocarpus heimii tree.  The wood is hard, compact, durable and even termite-resistant.   It is however not maintenance-free.  Nothing is maintenance-free.

An unique feature in Sarikei not to be missed.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Lansium domesticum var. duku

Lansium domesticum is a complicated species of trees of the  Meliaceae family. It originated throughout the entire Southeast Asian region.  The plant differs from place to place, thus numerous varieties, impossible even for one botanist/horticulturist to identify one.  The vast varieties of Lansium domesticum often lead to some botanist to differentiate them as different species. 

Overall, there are 2 main varieties : duku and langsat.  In addition, there are also mixed duku-langsat varieties.

The fruit are borne in cluster.  Fruit can be elliptical, oval or round, measuring 2 to 7 cm in diameter.  The skin can be smooth or rough, with skin thickness varies with the varieties.   The fruit contains 1 to 3 seeds, flat, and bitter tasting.  The seeds are covered with clear-white aril that tastes sweet and sour. 

This is a variety of duku brought by KeeSiong from his hometown Malacca.  The fruit range from 2 to 5 cm in diameter.  The skin are orangey, a bit rough-textured, and is enormously thick.   In the end, what makes me conclude it’s a duku is the sweet and sour taste.  Its definitely a duku

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sun : There's gold in 'em trees

Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Solanum torvum - terung pipit

Terung Pipit is Solanum torvum, also known as Turkey berry, Devil’s fig, prickly nightshade, wild eggplant, pea eggplant, and many other names.

Originated from the West Indies, it is now widely distributed all over the Tropics, more as a noxious weed than cultivated crop.

The plant is 2 to 3 meter in height.  The branches and twigs are covered with hairs and spines.  Leaves are opposite, ovate, and lobed.  Flowers are white, tubular with 5 pointed lobes, in corymbiform cymes.  Fruits are berries in clusters, round, about 1cm diameter, green when mature, yellow when ripe, think-fleshed.  Seeds numerous, flat disc.

Propagation by seeds and cuttings.  The plant does not live long, up to 2 years the most.  Usually used as rootstocks for eggplants, for its resistant against root diseases.


The green fresh fruits are used in Thai cuisine, as well as Malay and Lao cuisine.  Fruits can be consumed fresh as salad or cooked with curry or soups, sauces and stews.   Dried fruits which are pre-soaked fruits in curd, were fried in oil to make sundaikkai vattral, an Indian condiment.