Monday, May 23, 2011

Anredera cordifolia - 落葵薯


Anredera cordifolia, commonly known as the Madeira vine, or 田七菜, 藤三七 (落葵) , is a South American vine species of the family Basellaceae.   Basellaceae is parked under order Carophyllales according to the APG System.  There are some 2 dozens species in Basellaceae family, divided by 4 genera : Anredera, Basella, Boussingaultia, and Ullucus.

A. cordifolia is an evergreen climber that grow easily from its fleshy rhizomes.  It has bright green, heart-shaped, fleshy shiny leaves, about 5cm long.  It produces aerial tubers on their stems.  Flowers are small and white in colour, produced in spikes. 

It has been introduced to Africa, Australasia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Asia as ornamental plant and leafy vegetable.  However, due to the plant spread easily via the tubers, and its vigorous growth, the plant is considered an invasive species in many countries.  It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord which limits its cultivation and sale.  The fleshy leaves and thick aerial tubers makes it a very heavy vine, easily break branches and bring down entire trees.

The fleshy leaves and tubers are edible.  The leaves, after cooked, are somehow slimy and smooth.  Tubers are often used in cooking soups.




Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mangrove Flora Species

Mangroves are various kinds of plants that grows in saline costal sediment habitat in the tropics and subtropics.  A narrower definition refers only for the mangrove family of the plants, the Rhizophoraceae.  More specifically, mangroves are just for mangrove trees of the genus Rhizophora.

Mangroves form a distinct characteristic saline woodland or shrubland habitat, called mangrove swamp, mangrove forest, mangrove or mangal.  It dominates 3 quarters of tropical costlines. 

A total of about 110 species are considered mangroves, of different opinions.  Tomlinson ( 1986 ) identified 54 species ; Duke ( 1992 ) identified 69 species.  Categorization is usually based on the plants’ adaptation to low oxygen, high salinity, poor nutrient and offspring survival mechanism.

Tomlinson, in his book The Botany of Mangoves, published by the Press Syndicate of University of Cambridge in 1986, categorized mangal species into 3 groups : major elements, minor elements, and mangal associates.

Major elements are recognized by Tomlison, as ‘strict or true mangroves’, because they posses all or most of the following features :
1. complete fidelity to the mangrove environment : that is, they occur only in mangal and do not extend into terrestrial communities
2. a major role in the structure of the community and the ability to form pure stands
3. morphological specialization that adapts them to their environment; the most abvious are aerial roots, associated with gas exchange, and vivipary of the embryo, whose functional significance is not clear
4. some physiological mechanism for salt exclusion so that they can grow in sea water; they frequently visibly excrete salt
5. taxonomic isolation from terrestrial relatives.  Strict mangroves are separated from their relatives at least at the generic level and often at the subfamily or family level.  For minor mangrove, the isolation is mostly at the generic level.

Family
Genus
number of species
Species
Avicenniaceae
Avicennia
8
A. alba, A. balanophora, A. bicolor, A. eucalyptifolia, A. germinans, A. lanata, A. marina, A. officinalis,A. schaueriana, A. africana
Combretaceae
Laguncularia
1
L. racemosa
Lumnitzera
2
L. littorea , L. racemosa,  L. x rosea ( L. racemosa x L. littorea )
Arecaceae
Nypa
1
N. fruticens
Rhisophoraceae
Bruguiera
6
B. cylindrica, B. exaristata,  B. parviflora, B. hainesii, B. sexangula, B. gymnorhiza
Ceriops
2
C. decandra, C. tagal
Kandelia
1
K. candel
Rhizophora
8
R. apiculata, R. mangle, R. mucronata, R. racemosa, R. samoensis, R. stylosa,R x lamarckii ( R. apiculata x R. stylosa ), R. x annamalayana ( R. apiculata x R. mucronata ), R. x selala ( R. stylosa x R samoensis ),  R x harrisonii ( R. mangal x R. stylosa )
Lythraceae
Sonneratia
5
S. alba, S. apetala, S. caseolaris, S. griffithii, S. lanceloata, S. ovata, S. x gulngai ( S. alba x S. caseolaris )



 The minor species are distinguished by their inability to form a conspicuous element of the vegetation.  They may occupy peripheral habitats and only rarely form pure communities.

Family
Genus
number of species
Species
Bombacaceae
Camptostemon
2
C. philippinensis, C. schultzii
Eupohrbiaceae
Excoecaria
2
E. agallocha, E. indica
Lythraceae
Pemphis
1
P. acidula, P. madagascariensis
Meliaceae
Xylocarpus
2
X. granatum, X. mekongensis, X. moluccensis
Myrsinaceae
Aegiceras
2
A. corniculatum, A. floridum
Myrtaceae
Osbornia
1
O. octodonta
Pellicieraceae
Pelliciera
1
P. rhixophoreae
Plumbaginaceae
Aegialitis
2
A. annulata, A. roundifolia
Pteridaceae
Acrostichum
3
A. aureum, A. danaeifolium, A. speciosum
Rubiaceae
Scyphiphora
1
S. hyrdophyllacea
Sterculiaceae
Heritiera
3
H. fomes, H. globosa, H. littoralis



Mangoves associates are less distinctive.  They may be herbaceous or subwoody,  dispersed by sea currents, grass or rushes or sedges, ferns, etc.   Gymnosperms and conifers are likely to be excluded in the group.

Family
Genus
Species
Acanthaceae
Acanthus
A. ilicifolius, A. ebracteatus, A. volubilis
Bravaisia

Apocynaceae
Cerbera
C. manghas
Asteraceae
Phoenix
P. paludosa
Bignoniaceae
Dolichandrone
D. spathacea
Boranginaceae
Cordia
C. subcordata
Celastraceae
Cassine
C. viburnifolia
Combretaceae
Conocarpus
C. erectus
Cyperaceae
Fimbristylis
F. ferruginea
Eupohrbiaceae
Excoecaria
E. agallocha
Fabaceae
Cynometra
C. iripa, C. ramiflora
goodeniaceae
Scaevola
S. sericea
Lecythidaceae
Barringtonia
B. acutangula, B. asiatica, B. calyptrata, B. racemosa
Malvaceae
Brownlowia
B. tersa
Hibiscus
H. tiliaceus
Thespesia
T. populnea
Meliaceae
Aglaia
A. cucullata
Pandanaceae
Pandanus
P. odoratissimus
etc…



Friday, May 13, 2011

Nypa fruticans - Nipah

Nypa fruticans, known ask the nipah palm, or attap palm.  It is the only palm species considered a mangrove in the Mangrove Biome.  N. fruticans is a monotypic taxon, meaning that it’s a lone biological type within the genus.

N. fruticans grows in soft mud of southern Asian and northern Australia costal tropical.  It is an endangered species in Singapore.

It has a horizontal trunk that grows beneath the ground, only the leaves and flower stalk grow upwards above the surface.   The leave frond can reach up to 10 meter in height.  The flowers are a globular inflorescence of female flowers at the tip, with yellow-to-red male flowers on the lower branches.    The fruit is a drupe, fibrous, airy, in a cluster.  Ripe fruitlets separated from the bunches, and floated away on the tide.

Nypa fruticans is a very useful plant.
The piths ( umbut ) are harvested, consumed as vegetables.  The long, feathery frond are used as roofing material ( daun attap ), and wall panel.
The leaflets are used in basketry.  Young leaflets are used to wrap tobacco for smoking.






The flower cluster can be tapped before blooming, to yield a sweet edible sap ( nira nipah ), collected to produce alcoholic drink, vinegar, and palm sugar ( gula apong )

Seeds of young fruits ( attap-zi ) are sweet, translucent, gelatinous, used as a dessert ingredient ( air batu campur ) or fruit cocktail.
Seeds of older fruit are made into powder.

Nypa sap produces 6,480-15,600 liters of ethanol per hectare per year, compare to sugarcane 5,000-8,000 liter/ha/year, and corn just only 2,000 liter/ha/year.