Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Garcinia mangostana - Manggis 山竹

Garcinia mangostana L.  is known as manggis in its region of origin – the Malay archipelago.  At other part of the world, it is colloquially known as mangosteen.    The local Malays crowned it as the “Queen of Fruits”, side by side with Durian as the “King of Fruits”.

Manggis is a tropical evergreen tree from the family Clusiaceae, formerly known as Guttiferae, which also include about 37 genera.  The genus Garcinia has at least another 50 species.

Young manggis fruits are white in colour.  As the fruits mature, they turn into green and finally dark purple when ripened.  By then, the fruits have grown up to 8cm in diameter, capped by a prominent green calyx, with a flat remnants of the stigma in a rosette at the bottom.  The rosette are supposedly correspond to the number of the aril sections.  The skin ( exocarp ) is hard, but easily squeeze-open.  The rind is about 10cm thick, spongy and reddish in colour. 

Edible arils are white, 4 – 8 segments, wedge-shaped, soft, sourly to sweet, mildly aromatic and fleshy.  Most seeds are infertile, with only 2 or 3 fully developed recalcitrant seeds.  The seeds must be kept moist to remain viable until germination.  It is interesting to know that the seeds are nucellar in origin, and not of the result of fertilization.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle 洛神花

Roselle, is Hibiscus sabdariffa L., a species of annual flowering plant native to the tropics of Old World.  Some says its from Africa, others say its from India...  Something for sure, it has been long cultivated in both Africa and Asia. 

Roselle is called by many names in different parts of the world, among the prominent ones are : flor de Jamaica, sorrel, bissap, asam paya, 洛神花 ,etc.  

The generic name is derived from the Greek word  βίσκος ( hibískos ), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) gave to Althaea officinalis.

Besides being called Hibiscus sabdariffa, roselle too have other synonyms : Abelmoschus cruentus Bertol., H. cordofanus Turcz., H. digitatus Cav., H. fraternus L., H. inermis, H. palmatilobus Baill., Sabdariffa rubra Kostel., etc

Roselle can grow up to 3 m in height. 
Leaves green to red ; alternate ; glabrous ; long-petiolate ; palmately divided into 3 – 7 lobes ; serrate margins.
Flowers large ; pink with dark-red center.
Fruits ovoid capsules, encapsulated by fleshy red calyx.

Roselle is a hermaphroditic, pollinated by insects.
It is a short-day plant, flowering when day-length is less than 13.5 hour.
Propagation is by seeds
Several cultivars are known : ‘Arab’, ‘Archer’, ‘Rico’, ‘Victor’, ‘Terengganu’, ’UMKL-1’,  etc

Roselle had been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, laxative, and treatment for cardiac and verve disease.
Calyces are used as food colorings, infused into drink, made into jams, etc.
Young leaves are consumed as greens.  Heated leaves are applied to cracks in feet.  Mashed leaves are used to treat wounds and sores.

Roselle is rich in anthocyanins and protocatechuic acid.  Small amounts of myrtiline, chrysanthenin and delphinidin are also present.
Dried calyces contains gossypetin, hibiscetine and sadaretine.
Seeds contant g-tocopherol.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nymphaeaceae vs Nelumbonaceae

taxonomic position
angiosperms | Nymphaeales
angiosperms | eudicots | Proteales
Genera (species)
Barclaya (4), Euryale (1), Nuphar (11), Nympahea (33), Ondinea (1), Victoria (3)
Nelumbo (2)
temperate, tropical

botanical description
Root rhizome, sometime tuberous, latex, scattered vascular bundles.
Root rhizome stolonous with air chambers.
Leaves ovate, peltate, margin entire to spinose-dentate; floating, up to 300cmÆ,  submersed or emersed.
Leaves circular, peltate, slightly haired, margin entire, up to 60cm Æ, above water. 
Flower solitary, radial, bisexual, protogynous, diurnal or nocturnal, submersed or above water, termoregulated, entomophily, up to 40cmÆ; pistil 1, 3-35 carpellate.

Flowers solitary, radial, bisexual, protogynous, diurnal, fragrant, above water, termoregulated, entomophily, up to 25cmÆ; pistils numerous, 1-carpellate, large carpellary receptacle.
Fruit berry, nut or capsule; dehiscent or indehiscent..
Fruit conical pod, spongy, indehiscent, seeds in cavities.
Seeds numerous; aril present or absent; endosperm sparse; perisperm abundant; cotyledons 2, fleshy.
Seeds without aril, endosperm and perisperm; cotyledons 2, fleshy.
Pollen monoaperturate

Pollen triaperturate

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Nelumbo nucifera - Lotus 荷花

Lotus is a flowering plant in the family Nelumbonaceae.  It is also known as Rose of India, Indian lotus, sacred water lily, scared lotus, etc.

Lotus was formerly known as Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.), Nymphaea nelumbo, etc. which are all now obsolete.   The only name currently recognized is  Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) .

In China, it is known as  莲花 or 荷花, ancient scripts recorded it as 芙蓉, 菡萏, 芙蕖.  It is often mistaken for waterlily  睡蓮, which is of Nymphaea genus.  Nelumbo and Nymphaea are currently classified under entirely different families.

The generic name Nelumbo is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum.   The specific name nucifera is Latin for nut-bearing.

There are only 2 known living species in the genus : the sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera of Asia ; and the American lotus Nelumbo lutea of North America.   Hybrids have been produced between N. nucifera and N. lutea.   A third extinct species, Nelumbo aureavallis is known from Eocene fossils from North Dakota, USA.

The roots of Nelumbo nucifera are planted in the soil of water bottom, while the leaves are often held above water surface.  
Leaves are peltate, circular, and superhydrophobicity.   
Flowers are pink in colour, hermaphrodite, entomophily, thermoregulated. 
Seed pods are conical, green upon maturity, turn brown when ripened.   
Seeds contained in holes in the pod, loose when ripe.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lablab purpureus - Kacang komak

Kacang komak is the name the Indonesian workers called the rare purplish bean they sowed at the line site.

It is a vigour climber with trifoliate leaves.  Flowers in raceme, purplish-green in colour, resemble of yardlong beans ( Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis ).
Yet the fruit pods are somehow similar to semi-inflated green beans.

A check on Google shows that kacang komak is a variety of Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweets, a legume native to Africa, now widely cultivated throughout tropical region.

It is known by many names : Egyptian been, Hyacinth bean, Indian bean ; faselbohne, helmbohne, schlangenbohne, batao, wal,vaal, sem, lubia, fiwi, njahi in Africa ; batao in the Philippines ; avarai in India, etc.  Its synonyms include : Dolichos benghalensis Jacq. Dolichos lablab L. , Dolichos purpureus L. , Lablab niger Medikus , Lablab vulgaris (L.) Savi , Lablab lablab (L) Lyons,  Vigna aristata Piper.

Flowers, immature pods, seeds, leaves and root are used as vegetables.  Flowers are consumed raw or cooked in soups. Immature pods can be eaten raw or cooked.  Mature seeds must be thoroughly cooked.  The seeds can also made into tofu, tempe, or sprouted.  Leaves must be cooked before consuming.

It is also used as fodder for grazing, in soil conservation, as green manure and cover crop, and even as an ornament.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Muntingia calabura

Muntingia calabura is the sole species in the genus Muntingia.  It is a plant native to tropical America, now naturalized and widely distributed throughout the tropical regions.

In its region of origin, it is known as Strawberry tree ( Jamaica ) ; capulin, palman, bersilana, jonote, puan ( Mexico ) ; pasito ( Panama ) ; chitato, majaguito, chiriado, acuruco, tapabotija, nigua ( Columbia ) ; majaguillo, majagua, mahaujo, guácimo hembra, cedrillo, niguo, niguito ( Venezuela ) ; bolina, Iumanasa, yumanaza, guinda yunanasa, mullacahuayo ( Peru ) ; calabura, pau de seda ( Brazil ), cedrillo majagua ( Argentina ) ; capulina, chapuli ( Cuba ) ; bois d’ orme, bois de soie marron ( Haiti , Guadeloupe ) ; memiso, memizo ( Dominican Republic ) , etc

It is also known by many names : cerri, talok ( Indonesia ) ; tarkop farang ( Thailand ) ; Datiles, Cereza, Seresa, Manzanita , ratiles, latires ( Philippines ) ; cay trung ca ( Vietnam ).  In Malaysia, it is called kerukup Siam, Panama berry, Japanese cherry, Jamaica cherry, ceri Malaysia, ceri kampung or just simply ceri.

Muntingia calabura is a small tree with vertically layered branches.  It has serrated green leaves 5-8cm long and 1-2cm wide, alternate, oblong-lanceolate, unequal and sub-cordate at the base, acuminate at tip.  Flower is solitary, petal white in 5, sepal green, anthers yellow, stigma bright green.  Fruit is a berry, rounded, about 1.5cm in diameter, immature green, red when ripe, fleshy, and numerous tiny yellowish seeds.

Fruits are consumed fresh, by birds, monkeys, small mammals, and human as well.  Bark used for making rope.  Roots, leaves and flowers are used in traditional medicine. 

Muntingia calabura grows easily via seeds dispersed by birds.  It can thrives in poor soil, thus often a pioneer species, or used in reforestation projects.    Often it is considered as invasive weed.   

Basic About Leaves : Classification

Leaves are borne on a stem in a definite fixed order, or phyllotaxy, according to species . For identification purposes, leaves are classified according to type and shape, and types of margins , tips and bases , and venation

Leaf arrangement. (a) Helical (top view). (b) Helical with elongated internodes (alternate). (c) Opposite (decussate). (d) Whorled (verticillate).

Leaf types. (a) Simple. (b) Trifoliate. (c) Palmately compound. (d) Odd-pinnately compound. (e) Even-pinnately compound. (f) Decompound.

Leaf shapes. (a) Linear. (b) Lanceolate. (c) Oblanceolate. (d) Spatulate. (e) Ovate. (f) Obovate. (g) Elliptic. (h) Oblong. (i) Deltoid. (j) Reniform. (k) Orbicular. (l) Peltate. (m) Perfoliate. (n) Connate.

Leaf margins of various types. (a) Entire. (b) Serrate. (c) Serrulate. (d) Dentate. (e) Denticulate. (f) Crenate. (g) Undulate. (h) Incised. (i) Pinnatifid. (j) Dissected. (k) Lobed. (l) Cleft. (m) Parted.

Leaf tips and bases. (a) Acuminate. (b) Acute. (c) Obtuse. (d) Truncate. (e) Emarginate. (f) Mucronate. (g) Cuspidate. (h) Cuneate. (i) Oblique. (j) Cordate. (k) Auriculate. (l) Sagittate. (m) Hastate. (n) Clasping.

Leaf venation. (a) Dichotomous. (b) Pinnate reticulate. (c) Palmate reticulate. (d) Parallel (expanded leaf). (e) Parallel (linear leaf).

Friday, 12 October 2012

Garuda 芸香

Garudah is a Ruta angustifolia Pers, a shrub from the Rutaceae family. 

Ruta 芸香 is a strongly scented evergreen shrub.  There are some 40 species of rues, native to the Mediterranean, Macronesia and southwest Asia.  Extracts from rue had been used to treat eyestrain, sore eyes, and as insect repellent.  It is also used internally as an antispasmodic, as a treatment for menstrual problems, as an abortifacient, and as a sedative.

There are about 8 to 40 species in the genus.  Among them are : R. angustifolia, R. chalepensis, R. corsica, R. graveolens, R. montana.

The rue used by local Malay, known as gerudah  is probably  Ruta angustifolia (L.) Pers, the Egyptian rue  埃及芸香.  It’s common name may varied : garudah, aruda, sadal etc.  In Indonesia, it is known as inggu ( Sunda ), gogong minggu ( Jawa ), aruda.  In Vietnam it is luru.  

It can also be Ruta graveolens, the common rue,  also known as herb-of-grace.  Some considered R. graveolens Pers as a synonym for R.angustifolia auct.   Some even treated R. angustifolia as a variety of R. graveolens, or R. chalepensis.

Nevertheless, both R. graveolens and R. angustifolia are native to the Mediterranean region.  Both leaves, which are harvested for medical purpose, are bipinnate or tripinnate with blue-green colour and strong distasteful odor.  Flowers are however delightfully yellow.  It is incredibly bitter, almost unpalatable.   They has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes since ancient times.  It is propagated by seeds and cuttings.

Gerudah contains limonene, cineole, methyl-nonylketon, memodin, and rutin.  The seeds contain kokusaginine and skimmianine.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Basic about Flower - Sexuality

Flower Sexuality

Plant Sexuality

Population Sexuality

Monday, 13 August 2012

Logo DBP

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka ( The Institute of Language and Literature ) is a statutory government body established under the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Act 1959, responsible for coordinating the use of the Malay language.

DBP’s logo depict a brownish lontar leaf with pen-shaped stalk in the middle.  The lontar leaf is enveloped by 2 green resam leaves. 

a young Borassus flabellifer stand
Lontar leaf is of Borassus flabellifer L., also known as the Asian Palmyra palm, Toddy palm, sugar palm, or Cambodian palm, which is native to South and Southeast Asia.

Lontar is of Javanese origin, ron tal, which means daun tal in Malay.  The dried lontar leaves have been used as paper in parts of Asia as far back as the 15th century.  In Sulawesi, it is known as lontara.

The process of making lontar leaves for writing starts with harvesting mature leaves.  The leaves are then sun-dried.  During drying, the leaves colour changed from green to yellowish.  Then the leaves are soaked in running water for few days,  after which are clean by rubbing with coconut husk. 
Then the leaves are dried once again.  During which the veins are removed.  After that, the leaves are boiled with some unknown ingredients for about 8 hours.
The next day, while the leaves are still damp, they are pressed with a wooden device, for about 6 months.
Finally, the leaves are cut can punched holes on both ends and middle.
lontar from Nepal
Before writing on the leaves, vertical lines are drew by plucking a stretched tiny string.   Writing is done by a special knife, sometime made of sharpened stalks of resam leaves ( Dicranopteris linearis ).  After the writing, it is highlighted by rubbing heated kemiri ( Aleurites moluccana ).   Finally wiped with minyak sereh ( citronella oil ) to remove the lines, also to act as insect repellent.

Apart from Borassus flabellifer, Nypa fruticans leaves too were known to be used in palm leaves manuscripts, known as Nipah or naskah.

B. flabellifer’s to the society is not limited to lantar alone. 
Its succulent, translucent, sweet jelly seed is very much sought after in many parts of Asia – Ice-apple, Lontar.
The ripened fibrous outer layer of the fruit can be eaten raw, boiled or roasted.
A juice is collected from cut shoot, drink fresh or fermented.
Another juice, collected from cut young inflorescence is made into liquor – Toddy, or sweetener – Gula Jawa.
The leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas etc.
Skin of the stem can be made into rope.
Trunk can be made into canoe or used in construction.

Dicranopteris linearis leaves
Resam is Dicranopteris linearis (Burm.) Underw.,  a common fern widely distributed around wet Old World tropics.  Resam grows easily on poorly drained, nutrient-poor soils, and steep slopes, yet it does not tolerate shade. 

Previously known as Gleichenia linearis (Burn.) C.B.Clarke., resam is known by different common names : Old World forked fan, ulehe in Hawaii, andam and sapilpil in Sumatera.

Its feather-like leaves are often used in floral arrangement.
The plant is use in traditional medicine in treating intestine worm, skin ulcer, wound, and fever.
The branch is quite hard, even if when dried, thus suitable to used as pen when sharpened. 
In Sumatera, a hat made of resam stem, known as kopiah, is a signature traditional headgear.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Krabi : Local Market's Produce

Schizophyllum commune
kulat sisir

Gnetum gnemon
daun sabong
Senegalia pennata
Cha-omชะอม  (Thai)

Bambusa sp
bamboo shoots

Dimocarpus longan malesianus

Ziziphus jujuba
jujube, ไทย(Thai),  红枣(Mandarin)

Averrhoa bilimbi
belimbing buluh, taling pling ตะลิงปลิง (Thai) 

Cucurbita maxima
pumpkin, labu (Malay). fak thong ฟักทอง (Thai), 金瓜, 南瓜(Mandarin)

Parkia speciosa
petai (Malay), sato สะตอ (Thai), 臭豆 (Mandarin)

Psidium guajava

( lastly, mud crabs. Scylla sp.
What an interesting way to tie them up )

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

3 Sisters

This diorama depicts the type of agriculture the Iroquois practiced when Europeans came to what is now Upstate New York, beginning about 1600. This exhibit strives to be authentic in all respects, from the major setting to the small details. The plants and animals displayed are accurate replications of those that inhabited the Iroquois world.

The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of Native American in North America : squash, maize and beans.

The three crops are planted close together in the field.  maize are planted on flat-topped mounds ( 30cm height x 50cm width ) of soils.  Rotten fish or eels are buried in the mound for fertilizer.  When the maize is 15cm tall, beans and squash are planted alternately around the maize.

The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles.  The beans would provide nitrogen to the soil.  The squash spread over the ground, blocking the sunlight, establishing a living mulch.

Maize lacks the amino acid lysine and tryptophan, of which beans rich in.  therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet.


Squashes generally refer to 4 species of the genus Cucurbita : C. maxima ( ambercup, buttercup squash, Hubbarb squash ), C. mixta ( cushaw squash ), C. moschata ( butternut squash ), and C. pepo ( acorn squash, pumpkins, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash, zucchini )

Squashes may have been first cultivated in Mesoamerica some 8,000 to 10,000 yeas ago.

In North America, squashes are loosely grouped into summer squash or winter squash, depending on whether they are harvested as immature fruit ( summer squash ) or mature fruit ( autumn or winter squash ).

Summer squashes are harvested during immature stage, while the skin is still soft and the fruit is rather small.  They are eaten almost immediately and require little to no cooking.  Summer squashes include : pattypan, yellow crookneck, zucchini.

Winter squashes are harvested generally during the end of summer, cured to further harden the skin, and stored in cool place.  Winter squashes include : butternut squash, Hubbard squash, ambercup, acorn, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin.

Squashes derived from an inferior ovary, are botanically classified as a pepo, which is a special type of berry with a thick outer wall or rind formed from hypanthium tissue fused to the exocarp ; the fleshy interior is composed of mesocarp and endocarp.


Maize is domesticated in Mesoamerica as early as 10,000BC.  By 2,500 BC, it had spread through much of the Americas. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, European explores bring maize back to Europe and introduced it to other part of the world.

Sugar-rich varieties are called sweet corn, are usually grown for human consumption ; while field corn varieties are used for animal feed and as chemical feedstocks.

Maize are classified as various subspecies related to the amount of starch each has :
· flour corn – Z. mays amylacea
· popcorn – Z. mays everta
· dent corn – Z. mays indentata
· flint corn – Z. mays indurate
· sweet corn – Z. mays saccharata, Z. mays rugosa
· waxy corn – Z. mays ceratina
· pod corn – Z. mays tunicata
· striped maize – Z. mays japonica

Botanically a caryopsis,  the kernel of maize seed has a pericarp of fruit fused with the seed coat. 


Beans were domesticated in Mesoamerica some 2,000BC ago.  5 kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples : P. vulgaris ( common beans, caparrones, pinto bean, kidney bean ), P. lunatus ( lima beans, seiva beans ), P acutifolius ( Tepary beans ), P. coccineus ( scarlet runner beans ), and P. polyanthus ( polyanthus beans ).

Beans contain a toxic compound phytohaemagglutinin.  The concentration varies in many varieties.  Phytohaemagglutinin can be deactivated by boiling beans in water, which should then be discarded.  Symptoms of phytohaemagglutinin poisoning are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Beans are also high in purines, which metabolized to urid acid.  Urid acid promotes the development of exacerbation of gout.

Beans are legumes, having dicotyledon seeds in pods.

Rocky Mountain bee plant

The Tewa and other Southwest tribes often include a ‘fourth sister” known as Rocky Mountain bee plant ( Cleome serrulata ), which attracts bees to help pollinate the beans and squash.  Its seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, or dried and ground into meal.  The leaves, flowers and shoots can be cooked and eaten as vegetable.  An infusion of the plant is used to treat stomach problems and fevers, and poultices made from it can be used on the eyes.  A dye, called ‘waa’ in the Navajo language, is extracted from the plant, for painting pottery.