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by : BTF

As I Wander...

Living in tropical Malaysia, we tend to take the hot humid weather, thundery rainstorms and the spectrum of wild evergreen plants as a given.

Recently, I noticed more exotic plants making its way into landscaped home gardens, recreational parks, frontages of shopping malls and
commercial buildings.

Along kerb sides of residential streets and busy motorways, palms, trees and flowering plants make pleasant and interesting fringes.

This is a record of the various species "as I see it" for I am in awe of palms. Hence, my premise for this blog is that the global garden,
i.e. every physical garden (tended or untended), becomes a part of my, simply said, cyber palm garden. ;-)

Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments.

Thank you for visiting!

ShaShinKi - Malaysia's Online Camera Shop!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Ivory Crownshaft Palm

Botanical Name : Pinanga dicksonii

Noticed this elegant palm beside the BSC carpark perimeter wall in Bangsar awhile back. Couldn't really match it to any tropical specimen thus far.

Its bright green, droopy pinnate leaves kind of led me to think it might be the Acai (Euterpe oleracea) or Jucara (Euterpe edulis) palms however its profiles ended with more differences than similarities.

It has grown a lot taller since 3months ago (the tallest of the cluster nearly doubling in height).  A mid sized cluster with well appointed gray cane stems, it was well positioned for shade or semi shade with early morning sun.

The most attractive feature being its smooth, light yellow crown shaft and gentle drooping fronds.  A delicate attractiveness that has few comparisons.

As it is grown amongst waist high hedging and deep into the wall side, it's not possible to verify its trunk base or root system.

bifid tip

If any visitor has another opinion on what this specimen could be, I'd appreciate and look forward to hear and learn from you. Many thanks :)

Updated 5Nov.10
Special thanks to follower harvinsky who positively ID this specimen as the Pinanga dicksonii.

A native of the Andaman Islands in India, a robust and cold tolerant species. Thrives in the warm equatorial heat as well, indirect sun is preferred. Clustered but occasionally spread out due to horizontal underground stolons.

The Silver Bismarck Palm #3

Botanical Name : Bismarkia nobilis (silver form)

Strolling along Lorong Maarof in Bangsar, KL one could be mistaken for being transported to the wonderful island of Madagascar, affectionately known as "no place else on earth" for its ultra unique (weird?) flora and fauna.

Having "surveyed" the top half of this street (both sides) earlier for its multiples of Foxtail Palms (Wodyetia bifurcata), the grand numbers of Bismark Palms along its lower half (on one side only) is even more mind boggling!!!

Had I cared to count, there's 100 or more of the handsome and striking silver form. Such a massive streetscape is an extraordinary sight, not forgetting the local council's deep pockets for such a mega investment!

footpath archway
However, for me, the enjoyment is ALL mine :), as I took time to frame its most interesting and productive development, the various flowering and fruiting specimens.

miniscule light yellow blooms

fruity droops
largest bunch
dried out infloresence stalks

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Slender Lady Palm #2

Botanical Name : Rhapis excelsa

The past month had been unseasonally hot and unbearably dry. Many plants including some palms were already showing signs of sun burn with fronds drying out ; turning brown and looking dehydrated. So this morning's thunderous shower had been a pleasant respite for man and nature. A few drops of rain does bring a crisp freshness into the otherwise, dull looking plants.

Noticed a lively difference to this batch of 'freshly rained on' Lady Palms and think they look so perfect with the grand old Moorish architecture background.
front of Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Ministry of Information, Communications & Culture)
fresh & green
perky after the rains
pretty "moorish"

The Date Palm #2

Botanical Name : Phoenix dactilifera

This is one (looks like two) palm that has defied the odds and also endure the adverse conditions to grow in a mound of dirt, which is a road divider, in front of Kelana Jaya LRT station.

Have been observing it on and off during my daily transit and wondered if it ever gets to grow to maturity considering the very tight spot it has found itself in, corseted by exposed cables, stones and concrete. Guess it's a careless toss of a couple of seeds out of the car window after consuming the fruit and they fatefully landed at this particular terra firma beside a monsoon drain.

Despite consistently blanketed by exhaust fumes spewing from non-strop traffic plying this route, it is looking none the worse for wear, most importantly had not darkened its overall outlook...

hardy & resilient
prickly 4-5in spines

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hispaniola Palm

Botanical Name : Sabal domingensis

A native of the Hispaniola island in the Carribean, shared between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This is a robust and very adaptable palm taking in extreme cold to drought conditions in its stride.  Also known as the Dominican Palm.

Had 2nd thoughts about this neglected posting... since sighting this rare Sabal with flowers and fruits (3 months ago) cause even then, to my untrained eyes, this one was in dire distress. Some kind of affliction which I really can't pinpoint. Here, we get to see its glory (inflorescence + fructescence) despite its poor health.


The palm has varying green costapalmate (half fan shaped and half in divided leaflets) leaves which arched outwards with fingers of the leaflets further split into two giving them a thready look. Seeing them limped and drooped, as though in its last stages of life, was rather disturbing. Wonder what went wrong!
branches of flowers

The elongated floral bouquet of creamy white flowers (male and female) stretched out even longer than the length of its leaves, bursting with bunches of small green fruits which mature on turning purple.

specimen @ The Curve, PJ
It's quite a wonder to see the upper part of its solitary trunk cross-wrapped or 'weaved' in remnants of leaf bases known called 'bootjacks' or 'boots'.  Due to its tan colour, could say it's almost leather-like!

Next best feature, was that the petioles are smooth, all without spines.

'boots' not made for walking
limp with white spots beneath the leaves
beautiful at night with decorative lights

The Sabal d. could reach heights of 30ft+ and looking at this specimen, there's probably another 2/3 of growth to achieve.  Hope it's been tended to and recover soon...

Note to self : to post updated pic of this specimen

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Thai Dwarf Lady Palm

Botanical Name : Rhapis subtilis

Have always wondered if I'd ever find a flowering Rhapis in the local landscape. So, what joy it is to find the rarer still, flowering subtilis. I had originally mistaken this plant to be the multifida!  But information sourced has it that the multifida in cultivation are mainly male plants.

As I've not seen any Rhapis inflorescence before, so here's another of my exceptional sighting...

They arose interfoliar, between the stems and the petioles in brown papery bracts. Once opened, they display tiny, stiff looking, green buds on small branchlets.

tip of the inflorescence

I've gone for a close ups which probably did not turn out as well as expected.  Anyway, just knowing what this Rhapis inflorescence look like is good enough for me. Actually, reminds me of some local weeds/wild grasses in seeds.
flowering R.subtilis palm

cane cluster

The Blue Latan Palm #2

Botanical Name : Latania loddigesii

Flowering and fruiting events are, to me, such rare and special opportunities especially when one is not consciously looking. Sometimes when I deliberately set out to do so, they were about 10's of metres high, way beyond my cat's eye scan.

Being at the right place at the right time is a major luck factor for a wandering blogger and to find several of the same species displaying the various stages of the inflorescence development, yay! that's serendipity.

Here's my wonderful "national geographic" moments, a sequence I have not witnessed prior.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Round Leaf Fan Palm

Botanical Name : Livistona rotundifolia

Looking at this 'cute' young fella, can't help but think how appropriate it's name is.  While also known as the Footstool Palm, the former description couldn't be more apt. I like this perfect, rotund and happy face look.

here comes the sun

The ground's obviously hard and dry which is not a problem for this adaptable fella.  So just watch out for the sharp spines along its petioles.

Now too, I understand and appreciate why palm enthusiasts only grow theirs from tiny seeds and monitor every inch (cm) of its progress. A salute to the 3Ps, passion, patience and persistence.  Perhaps, add another P too, the price, as rarer species costs a lot more.

The Palm Surround Playground

If there ever be an outdoors knowledge playground for children to learn about tropical palms, this might be the perfect location for it, in residential Setia Eco Park, Shah Alam.

Nestled in the cool shade and surrounded by several species of mid sized mature palms, this cheerful playland is an open invitation for the young, restless and energetic juniors. Ah! what joy to be that young again ;), if only I knew then to appreciate the trees around me.

The Triangle and Foxtail Palms in the background
Queen palms with inflorescence, clusters of Lady Palm at the back 
one of the nearby Lady Palm clusters
deserted during the day
Behind the Queens are several Golden coconut palms, being tidied by park gardeners at the time this picture was taken.

Playtime is usually reserved for the evenings when the setting sun casts its low shadows and the late heat less intense. That's when this playground comes alive with carefree laughter and merriment of the children.