Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trapa bicornis @ Mid-Autumn Festival

菱角 The water caltrop is the seed of an annual aquatic plant, Trapa bicornis of the family Lythraceae. The generic name Trapa is derived from the Latin word for “thistle”.


The water caltrop’s submerged stem reaches 12 – 15 ft in length, anchored into the mud.

It has 2 types of leaves : finely divided feather-like submerged leaves borne along the length of the stem ; and undivided floating leaves borne in a rosette at the water surface. The floating leaves have saw-tooth edges and are avoid or triangular in shape, 2 – 3 cm long.

4-petalled white flowers form in early summer and are insect pollinated.

Fruit is a nut, barbed spines. Seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years.

Economic Importance

Native to warm temperate of Eurasia and Africa, it has been cultivated in China and India for at least 3,000 years. The seeds, which after boiled are consumed as snack or medicine.

It was introduced to North America around 1874, escaped cultivation and become an invasive species in Florida, North Carolina, and Washington.

In Australia, it is declared a noxious weed in the state of New South Wales.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jewels of Klang Gates Quartz Ridge

Klang Gates Quartz Ridge ( KGQR ) is the longest quartz ridge in the world spanning 14km and soars to 380m at its highest point.   It is also the single largest pure dyke in the world

Survey indicated at least 265 plant species thrive at its surrounding and at the ridge what botanist called an island habitat of which 5 are endemic.  Isolated, vegetation at the ridge top differs from those of surrounding areas.  

 A tree with needle-like leaves grow abundantly at the rocky mountain top.   Found only in Peninsular Malaya and Sumatra, the tree can also be found on sandy coasts.

The grass-looking Eulalia milsumi  ( Poaceae ) is a rare plant that grows only on the ridge and nowhere else in the world.

Other endemics plants are small woody shrub, Aleisanthia rupestris ( Rubiaceae ), the small tree Ilex praetermissa ( Aquifoliaceae ), the wiry herb Borreria pilulifera ( Rubiaceae ), and the ground herb Henckelia primulina ( Gesneriaceae ).

A National Parks & Wildlife Department survey carried out in 1985 found the tracks of  5 serows ( kambing gurun - Naemorhedus sumatraensis ), but it’s anyone guess how many are still around today.

The proposed KL Outer Ring Road ( KLORR ) from Selayang to Cheras, cutting though KGQR, Selangor State Park, the forest reserves of Hulu Gombak, Ampang and Hulu Langat, will surely disturb the unique ecosystem. 

Sign the Petition to Stop the KLORR.

Copied from :
1. Malaysian Nature Society – Selangor Greenbook.

My Reference :
1 Tan Cheng Li, Plants in Peril, the star online, 4 May 2010.
2. Wong K.M., et al, 2008, Ecological Aspects of Endemic Plant Population on Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, a Habitat Island in Peninsular Malaysia, Biodivers Conserv (2010) 19:435-447.
3. Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums, Vol II, 1909, pg249.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Plant Growth : Nutrients

Essential elements
Carbon ( C ) , Hydrogen ( H ) ,& Oxygen ( O).

Essential elements ( Arnon and Stout, 1939) :
-        A plant must be unable to complete its life cycle in the absence of the mineral element.
-        The function of the element must not be replaceable by another mineral element.
-        The element must be directly involved in plant metabolism.

Macronutrients ( 大量元素):
(  N ) , Phosphorus( P ) , Potassium( K ), Calcium( Ca ) , Magnesium( Mg ) ,&  Sulfur( S ).         

Macronutrients are consumed in large quantities.  They are present in plant tissue in quantities from 0.2% - 4%.

Micronutrients ( 量元素 ) ( Trace elements ) :
Chlorine ( Cl ) , Iron ( Fe ) , Manganese ( Mn ) , Boron ( B ) , Zinc ( Zn ) , Copper ( Cu ) , Molybdenum ( Mo ) , Sodium ( Na ) ,& Nickel ( Ni ).  

Micronutrients are present in plant tissue in small quantities.

Beneficial Elements :
Silicone ( Si ) ,&  Cobalt ( Co ).   

Beneficial elements are those that  :
-        can compensate for toxic effects of other elements or
-        may replace mineral nutrients in some other less specific function e.g. the maintenance of osmotic pressure.

The omission of beneficial nutrients in commercial production could mean that plants are not being grown to their optimum genetic potential but are merely produced at a subsistence level.

The beneficial elements have not been deemed essential for all plants but may be essential for some.

e.g. Cobalt is essential for nitrogen fixation in legumes. It may also inhibit ethylene formation ( Samimy, 1978 ) and extend the life of cut roses ( Venkatarayappa et al., 1980 ).

e.g. Silicon is deposited in cell walls, has been found to improve heat and drought tolerance and increase resistance to insects and fungal infections. Silicon can help compensate for toxic levels of manganese, iron, phosphorus and aluminum as well as zinc deficiency.

Plant Growth : once a mystery

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants . . .
Mark 4 31-32 ( NIV )

From a tiny seed, plants are capable to grow to a majestic size.

World largest single stem tree, by volume, is a Giant Sequoia ( Sequoiadendron giganteum ), nicknamed General Sherman, stands 83.8 m tall, and the trunk alone is estimated to weigh over 1,814 metric tonne; is grown from a seed not more than 5mm in length !

How does plant gain its mass ? What caused them to grow ?

Man had since awed by the miraculous growth of plant…   Plant seems to be simply emerged from the earth. Of course some suspected the earth provided the substances for plant growth, as did Aristotle, but what exactly ?

Jean Baptiste van Helmont, in 1648 published in his book Ortus medicinae an experiment he performed on a willow tree planted in a pot for 5 years. He weighted the young tree, soil and the water he added. After 5 years, the plant gained about 164 pounds, the amount of soil remain relatively unchanged. Thus, he deducted that the tree’s weight gain had come from water.

Today, we already know that plant’s mass consists of about 80% water, 19% organic matter, and 1% minerals.

Through a process known as photosynthesis, green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy. Water, carbon dioxide, and minerals are converted into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds.

At the same time, plants rely on soil for supplying water and mineral elements. Mineral elements are essential and beneficial for optimum plant growth.