Saturday, 3 September 2016

Pasar Borneo 2016 @ Seri Kembangan


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Darwin : Phototropism

Darwin was fascinated by the effects of light on plant growth, as was his son Francis. In his final book, The Power of Movement in Plants, Darwin wrote: ‘There are extremely few [plants], of which some part … does not bend towards lateral light.’ Or in less verbose modern English: almost all plants bend towards the light.

In a very simple experiment, published in 1880, Darwin and his son showed that this bending was due to some inherent sensitivity to move towards the light.

For their experiment, Darwin and his son, Francis, grew a pot of canary grass (Phalaris canariensis) in a totally dark room for several days. Then they lit a very small gas lamp twelve feet (3.5 metres) from the pot and kept it so dim that they ‘could not see the seedlings themselves, nor see a pencil line on paper.’ But after only three hours, the plants had obviously curved towards the dim light. The curving always occurred at the same part of the young plant, an inch or so below the tip.

This led them to question which part of the plant saw the light. The Darwins carried out what has become a classic experiment in botany.  They hypothesized that the ‘eyes’ of the plant were found at the seedling tip and not at the part of the seedling that bends.

They checked phototropism in five different seedlings, illustrated by the following diagram:

a. The first seedling was untreated and shows that the conditions of the experiment are conducive to phototropism.
b. The second had its tip pruned off.
c. The third had its tip covered with a lightproof cap.
d. The fourth had its tip covered with a clear glass cap.
e. The fifth had its middle section covered by a lightproof tube.

They carried out the experiment on these seedlings in the same conditions as their initial experiment, and of course the untreated seedling bent towards the light.  Similarly, the seedling with the lightproof tube around its middle bent towards the light. If they removed the tip of a seedling, however, or covered it with a lightproof cap, it went blind and couldn’t bend towards the light. Then they witnessed the behaviour of the plant in scenario four (d): this seedling continued to bend towards the light even though it had a cap on its tip.  The difference here was that the cap was clear. The Darwins realized that the glass still allowed the light to shine onto the tip of the plant.

In this experiment, the Darwins proved that phototropism is the result of light hitting the tip of a plant’s shoot, which sees the light and transfers this information to the plant’s midsection to tell it to bend in that direction.

Extracted from What a Plant Knows – A Field Guide To The Senses Of Your Garden And Beyond, 2012, Daniel Chamovitz

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Buluh Lemang - Schizotachyum brachycladum

Lemang is a traditional Malay food made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt, cooked in a hollowed lemang bamboo, lined with banana leaves.

The lemang bamboo ( buluh lemang ) ( Schizotachyum brachycladum ) is used for cooking lemang because of its unique properties :

1. Availabililty – Not Too Difficult To Find
The bamboo is evergreen plant native to tropical Asia, abundance all over lowland secondary forest.  It produces several new stems annually, each stems grow to their maximum heights in their first year of growth.  Propagation is common, usually by rhizome and clum cuttings.

It has been used in Borneo, Java, Bali, Malesia, Cochinchina, etc for construction, handicraft, container for water and cooking, etc.

2. Length – Not Too Long, Not Too Short
Buluh lemang’s clum are erect and straight, about 10-15m in length, 6-8cm in diameter. With approximately 7-10 hollow internodes, each 20-50cm in length, buluh lemang is suitable as a vessel for cooking.

3. Thickness – Not Too Thick
The bamboo’s internode wall is thin, about 3-5mm think, comparable to other species of bamboo.  The thin wall is easy to cut through, shortened the cooking time and uses less firewood.  

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Eucalyptus camaldulensis - River Red Gum

Eucalyptus camaldulensis is the river red gum, a tree of the Myrtaceae family.  It is native to Australia, where it naturally distributed along many inland water courses as well as floodplains.  Due to the proximity to watercourse, river red gum is subject to regulate flooding in its natural habitat.

The generic name ‘Eucalyptus’ is from the Greek words ‘eu’ good or well, and ‘kalyptos’ covered, referring to the calyx which forms a lid over the flowers when in bud.  Specific name “camaldulensis” referring to L’Hortus Camaldulensis di Napoli, from where the first specimen was first described by Frederick dehnhardt, in 1832.  The Camaldoli garden, which was established in 1816 by Francesco Ricciardi, Count Camaldoli, features collections of Acacia, Agavaceae, Melaleuca, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and Quercus ilex.

River red gum is tolerant to waterlogging, as well as drought, salinity, fire and frost.  Globally, E. camaldulensis is widely planted in arid and semi-arid lands.

E. camaldulensis can grow up to 45 meters tall.  The tree has a large, dense crown.  The base of the bole can be covered with rough, reddish-brown bark.   The dull blue-green coloured leaves contain oil-producing glands in the un-veined areas. 


Due to its fast-growing nature, it is cultivated for the wood.  Eucalyptus plantations are popular with honey producers, as they are safe and sheltered, and very few agro-chemicals are used.

River red gum wood is hard and dense (≈900kg/m3), but brittle, thus making hand working difficult.  It is used in rot resistant applications such as fence posts, sleepers, decks and wooden floors.  It is also popular firewood, the wood makes fine charcoal. 

E. camaldulensis is a natural biological drainage (biodrainage), often used to reclaim swampy sites.  The tree’s root can penetrate deep into the soil, capable to draw a tremendous amount of water from the ground, thus removing the water from the swamp.


River red gum and many other Eucalypts was nicknamed, “widow maker”, as they tends to drop large branch without warning.  This form of self-pruning may be a means of saving water or simply a result of its brittle wood.

E. camaldulensis is known to exhibit allelopathic characteristic.  Several volatile and water-soluble toxins found in Eucalyptus tissues inhibit other plant species from growing nearby.  Accumulated Eucalyptus litters inhibit seeds germination, and stunted seedling growth.

Eucalypts draw a tremendous amount of water from the soil through the process of transpiration.  This may contribute to depletion of ground water and soil moisture.

Large amount of Eucalpytus litters, combine with the volatile oil produced by the leaves, lead to fire hazard in Eucalpytus plantation.  

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Dicranopteris linearis - Resam

Dicranopteris linearis is a species of fern known as Resam ( in Malay ) or Old World forked fern, besides many other common names.  It is one of the most widely distributed ferns of the Old World tropics.

It grows easily on poorly drained, nutrient-poor soils and in disturbed habitat and steep slopes with open-canopy.  Thus making it a pioneer species on primary successional sites such as landslides, road-cuts, abandoned logging decks, post-agricultural sites, degraded forest lands etc.   Once established, D. linearis persist for a long time but is eventually shaded out by overtopping trees.

This fern spread via rhizome, capable to form thickets 3 meters thick or more.  The stems are very slow to decompose, thus may poses fire hazard during dry season.


Russell, A. E., et al. (1998). The ecology of the climbing fern Dicranopteris linearis on windward Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Journal of Ecology 86 765.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Axonopus compressus : American Carpet Grass

Axonopus compressus (Sw.) P.Beauv.
Family : Poaceae
Subfamily : Panicoideae
Tribe : Paniceae

Axonopus compressus var. australis,
Milium compressum,
Paspalum compressum, P. platycaule, P. platycaulon.

Common Names
Cowgrass, broadleaf carpetgrass, American carpet grass, tropical carpet grass, blanket grass, lawn grass, Louisiana grass, savanna grass, Kearsney grass

Tropical America.

Tropical and subtropical regions

Shallow-rooted stoloniferous and shortly rhizomatous perennial, with glabrous, oval-section (± 3.5 x 2.5 mm) stolon internodes and bearded nodes;  forms a dense mat with foliage 15-20 cm tall, and flowering culms mostly 30-45 (-60) cm;  can be mowed to a turf. 
Leaf sheath compressed, keeled, glabrous or ±hirsute;  ligule a fringed membrane 0.5 mm long;  blades shiny, flat or folded, 4-18 mm wide, and 2-16 cm long, glabrous or hairy on the upper surface, margins ciliate, apex broadly acute or obtuse. 
Inflorescence a panicle comprising 2 or 3 (rarely 5) slender, spikelike racemes, paired or sub-digitately arranged on a long slender peduncle ;  racemes (2-) 3-7 (-10) cm long;  spikelets, 2.0-3.5 mm long, 1-1.25 mm broad, inserted alternately either side of a flattened rachis.  2.6-3.0 million seeds per kg.

Drought tolerance
Poor drought tolerance.
Tolerance to shade and heavy grazing.

Soil requirements
Adapted to well to moderately drained sandy or sandy-loam soils, but also to light clays and peats. 
Best in acid soils with pH (5.0-) 5.5-6 (-7), iron chlorosis above pH 7. 
Low tolerance of salinity (<4 dS/m).

Used as a permanent pasture, ground cover and turf in moist, low fertility soils, particularly in shaded situations.  It is generally too low growing to be useful in cut-and-carry systems or for fodder conservation .

Chrysopogon aciculatus : The Hated Lovegrass

Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz.) Trin.

Andropogon aciculatus, A. javanicus, A. subulatus,
Centrophorum chinensis,
Chrysopogon acicularis, C. subulatus, C. aciculatus var longifolius,
Holcus aciculatus,
Raphis aciculatus. R. javanica, R. trivialis, R. zizanioides var aciculatus.

Common Names
love grass, kemuncup

Tropical Asia

Tropical and subtropical regions

A vigorous creeping grass with stout, tough rhizomes, the culms ascending to 45 cm. Inflorescence a small panicle, 7.5-10 cm long, with numerous slender branches. Spikelets narrow. Awn bristly, short and fine. The branches at first ascend almost vertically, spread obliquely at flowering and then bend upward again at fruiting. Each branch has three spikelets at its tip, one sessile and two pedicelled.

Drought tolerance
fairly drought tolerant.

Soil requirements
favours sandy acidic loams with pH 5.1-6.1.

An extremely common grass in village pasture in the plains of Asia because the prostrate, creeping stems resist overgrazing and trampling.

It used to be used as a cover for coconut plantations in the Philippines, and in Guam the straw was used for making hats and mats.

Its creeping rhizome and its capacity to resist hard grazing makes it useful for stabilizing embankments and similar sites.

Useful for rough lawns, forming a dense, hard-wearing turf, but a troublesome weed when uncontrolled because of the sharp-pointed seeds.

The seeds work through clothing and cause irritating sores.

Grazing animals suffer severely from the ripe fruits becoming attached to their hair by the sharp basal callus. By this means the fruit works its way into the flesh and causes extensive ulceration. Dogs frequently develop abscesses between the toes from the same cause, and germinating seeds of this grass can sometimes be pressed out of large bags of pus in the dog's flesh

A serious pest in north Queensland.  It is listed in USDA’s Federal Noxious Weed List 2012.

Monday, 11 April 2016

The Star : Beetle May Destroy Palm Oil Sector

Monday, 11 April 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: A species of beetle illegally brought in across the Thai-Malaysian border has been ravaging the nation’s palm trees, and – if left unchecked – can potentially decimate the palm oil industry within just 20 years.

The red palm weevil, or Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, is a species of beetle that excavates holes in the trunk of palm trees, eventually killing the plant. It infests coconut palms, date palms and oil palms.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s (DoA) Plant Biosecurity Division, so far a whopping 465ha of coconut trees are gone, mainly in Terengganu and Kedah.

There are 85,799ha of coconut palms in Malaysia. Additionally, 335 date palms have been eaten.

So far, said department head Faridah Aini Muhammad, no commercial plantations had been affected, but the weevil’s spread was a major cause for concern.

“What worries us is that if these beetles do not have access to their main source of food in date palms, they will move to oil palm trees.

“There have been reports which are still unconfirmed as yet, but it is a very real concern,” she said, adding that research was currently ongoing in several universities across the country.

“Research at UKM has shown that even without being forced, the weevil will go to the palm oil fruits and breed inside the tree itself.”

The red palm weevil first entered the country when seedlings and date palms were illegally brought in across the border with the beetle in the trunks.

Under Malaysia’s Plant Quaran­tine Act, the import of any palms except for research purposes is prohibited.

So far, the weevil can be found in five states – Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Terengganu – with the latter being the worst-hit.

“People have been bringing pandan coconut and date palms in for years, but after El Nino recently the weather became more suitable for these palms to flower and fruit, so people wanted to bring it in,” said Faridah.

However, unknown to most people, the bulk of the date palms smuggled in were ornamental plants that would not fruit.

While Malaysia is home to several other species of palm weevil, the one that has recently entered our shores breeds far quicker and so is more dangerous.

See no evil : Trunks of a dead palm tree hollowed out
by a palm weevil infestation
“To control its spread, we must spray cypermethrin (an insecticide) every two weeks until the infestation is dead. We have to do preventive spraying as well, including soil drenching (adding diluted chemicals to the base of plants),” said Faridah.

The adults are also killed with the use of pheromone traps, which can be used as an early detection method.

“If we find beetles in the traps, we know there are probably more,” she said.

The DoA has also met with and briefed the Smuggling Prevention Unit (UPP) of the Border Control Agency to look into the matter.

The Biosecurity Division has urged Malaysians to contact the DoA if they notice a possible infestation, or spray insecticide themselves.

“The first sign will be a wilting crown – the leaves fall into a skirt-like formation around the tree. They will then start dropping.

“Eventually, the whole trunk will be hollowed out and potentially fall, which is also a risk to the public, as some areas use palms as avenue trees to line roads and pathways, and even around mosques,” she said.

Faridah said that while the beetle had appeared in Malaysia in 2010, the situation had worsened due to an increase in smuggling.

“We have approached nurseries and told them to stop selling these smuggled date palms, but people must stop buying from unreliable sources, and report any potential smuggling to the authorities,” she said.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Star : Rare Agarwood Species is Back

Lost tresure : This 'Aquilaria rostrata' has been found in Besut, Terengganu after missing for over a century.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

PETALING JAYA: A critically endangered species of agarwood, which has been elusive for more than 100 years, has resurfaced.

The Aquilaria rostrata was first discovered in 1911 and was thought to be native only to Wray’s Camp in Taman Negara, Pahang.

Since then, nobody had spotted the species.

However, two Forestry Department rangers found what they suspected to be the elusive species in April last year in Besut, Terengganu, some 100km away from where it was first discovered.

Their suspicion was soon confirmed by a research team in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) led by associate professor Dr Rozi Mohamed.

“At first, we thought that it was a new species but after making comparisons with a 100-year-old specimen at Herbarium Botanic Gardens in Singapore, we discovered that it was the Aquilaria rostrata,” she said in a statement.

Dr Rozi, who published her findings in Blumen, an international journal on plant taxonomy, said the tree was found among felled timber in an area of about 700m above sea level.

“It is not available anywhere else but only in peninsular Malaysia and is in danger of extinction,” she said.

Some 50 of the same species were found in the same area, ranging between 2m and 5m in height. The trees were flowering and bore fruits. They were not cut down when found.

UPM Forestry Management Department head associate professor Dr Mohd Nazre Saleh said the rediscovery of Aquilaria rostrata was significant to floristic records everywhere.

“More so now because the species was discovered somewhere else from where it was originally found,” he told The Star.

Dr Mohd Nazre said this particular tree was “extremely rare” and was one of the species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

He called for more conservation efforts to “protect and preserve” the tree from being exploited.

Dr Rozi, whose study was funded by the Higher Education Ministry’s Fundamental Research Grant, also agreed that the species should be safeguarded from “unscrupulous quarters out to get hold of agarwood”.

Aquilaria rostrata was first discovered in 1911 by H.N. Ridley, with the findings published in 1924.

The species is listed as critically endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List and is believed to have declined due to the high demand for agarwood.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Bunchosia argentea

Scientific name : Bunchosia argentea
Synonym : Malpighia argentea 
Common name : peanut butter fruit
Family : Malpighiaceae
Native :  Venezuela and Colombia in South America.

It produces a small orange-red fruits with sticky, dense pulp and a flavour resembling that of dried figs or peanut butter, hence the name.  Mostly eaten fresh, also used for jellies, jams, or preserves.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016