Friday, April 26, 2013

Dillenia suffruticosa - Simpoh Air

Dillenia suffruticosa (Simpoh air in Malay) is an interesting plant. It is usually found growing wild on open slopes and spread by root runners. I pulled one of the suckers out from the wild and have it planted in the garden.

The flower

 The new leaf is copper-coloured and emerge from a slit in the older leaf.

This new leaf has a lovely sheen like polished copper. Older leaves were once used as a food wrapper. 

 8.11.12: A newly formed raceme bearing flower buds 

Allamanda violaceas are seen in the background.

After a shower, water droplets dripped down the buds. The curved raceme with the flower buds lined up like grapes.

This was the first flower on the raceme. Flowers tend to face downwards.

The flower in profile.

At end of the day, all five petals dropped on to the large leaf below.

What was left were the five sepals of the first flower.

It looks like another flower.

  The second flower bloomed two days later. The first fruiting was aborted as can be seen from the bare stalk of the first flower.

The bud of the 3rd flower is ready to pop anytime.

In fact the 3rd flower bloomed the next day.

Ants came at dawn to partake of the sweet offerings.

Now its the turn of the 4th flower to be in anthesis.

Petals of the 4th flower dropped by dusk. The ants have not finished their business of gathering. There is no winter in the tropics, so the ants should learn to have some fun like the grasshopper.

 The appearance of the 5th flower.

Outcome of a successful pollination - A fruit.

Of the cluster of nine flowers, eventually it was the seventh flower which bore fruit.

26.12.12: The fruit dehisced to reveal six segments of seeds covered with red pulp. Birds love them. Fruits face upwards. To photograph it I have to turn it sideways.

 At the end of the day, it look rather shriveled up. Here I noticed another fruit, produced from the 8th flower. So, the final tally - 8 flowers and 2 fruits.
In the evening a dragonfly perched on its stem

A really good camouflage. The body looked similiar to the stem in colouring.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hibiscus Madeline Champion and the Birds

Hibiscus Madeline Champion is one of those old world hibiscus that is truly a champion in many aspects. It is robust shrub which can be trained into a small tree that produces flowers throughout the year.

It is peach with delicate red veins radiating out from a red locus at the base of the flower. An areola of pink blush is seen around the red core.
The five-petaled flower has a frilly edge.

The unopened pollen pods look much like cashew nuts while the style branches into five separate styles, each bearing round tufted stigma.

Hibiscus flowers are always very popular with the birds. A Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) perched prettily among the flowers, giving me an opportunity for a vantage shot.

Another of its ilk chilled off on the cut off end of a stem.

However, it just perched on the stem without ever going near the flower for the prized nectar.

Unlike the bulbuls, sunbirds have a fixation with hibiscus flowers or rather its nectar.

Sometimes we can see sunbirds hovering briefly in front of the Hibiscus almost like the way hummingbirds do.

 It clinged on the flower stalk of a hibiscus while partaking of the sweet nectar.

This is the female, without the metallic-blue throat.

Next to the Lipstick palm another Hibiscus Madeline Champion thrives happily, 

attracting a plethora of birds to its numerous flowers.

It is quite characteristic of sunbirds to swing on the flower stalk, swaying on it for a while before they ...

dipped down to sip the nectar from the base of the flower. 

Going through the backdoor instead of through the front of the flowers, they get the nectar without having to contribute pollinating services. This is surely not a win-win situation for the Hibiscus. Here a male sunbird is seen siphoning off some 'free' nectar.

Early morning blooms.

Mid-day sunrays picked up the yellow and orange hues of a Hibiscus Madeline Champion rendering it a golden beauty against the azure sky.

In the late afternoon, this Hibiscus is still looking fresh enough to grace the driveway.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Petraeovitex wolfei - Nong Nooch Vine

This vine is easy to grow and propagate. The vines are fine, but has robust growth.  Its growth habit is similar to that of Clerodendrum thomsonae (Bleeding Heart vine). The leaves are tri-foliate, light green in colour and darken over time.

This amazing vine is a stunner when in bloom.

I brought it back home from the nursery as a one-foot high rooted cutting. It grew fast and after several months, it reached my first floor balcony and sprouted these pendulous strings of golden blooms.

It is fighting with Quisqualis indica (Rangoon creeper) for balcony space.


A solitary golden strand hangs down between the finger-like foliage of the Norfolk Island Pine.

This Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) fledging flew against my glass door and dropped down semi-conscious. I placed it  in a cardboard box with bird seeds and water. The next day, I set it out on the top tier of a contianer-planted Norfolk Island Pine to dry as it had spilled water over itself.

It basked in the warmth of the morning sun and allow me to photograph it from all angles.

It finally took off leaving three feathers behind as a momento of its brief stint of domesticity with us.

Some strands dipped into the thick clump of Alpinia purpurata (Red ginger torch)

The real flowers are the white ones but they do not last long. The golden bracts are the ones which last and give it the character that draws much admiration.

A calyx landed on the lawn.


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