Sunday, February 8, 2009

High and Thrifty

While having a rest at this summer house 0n the Kuching waterfront area, I looked up and saw this rain tree ( Samanea saman) being clustered by ferns on its main branches. It reminded me of a picture I took sometime ago of an epiphytic orchid that bloomed on a rain tree in Bintulu as shown below.
The pigeon orchid ( Dendrobium cruminatum) has a peculiar habit of flowering after sudden thunderstorms which is believed to create a rapid fall in the temperature and thus stimulate the orchid plant to produce flowers. The tiny flowers look like white doves in flight, hence the name pigeon orchids.

This rain tree does have character. It looks ancient and inviting to many epiphytes. Sometimes called 'air plants' they survive on trees having chosen a location that is indeed fine living, though not that affluent. Because though there is less competition with other species on the ground below, they need to be very thrifty to survive at the 'penthouse' level. Some have developed abilities to reduce the evaporation of water thus making economy a way of survival.

A closer view of the ferns blanketing the rain tree branches

Epiphytes can come in the form of aroids like the broad -leaved scindapsus aureus or epipremium pinnatum 'Aureum' plant above. This plant has adhesive aerial roots that trail up the trees to great heights. Thus if I were to plant them in pots as an indoor plant I would have to hold the plant to a wooden stick to keep it upright. The epipremium has a wonderful foliage that is often variegated . The longer leaves fern above is that of the bird's nest fern ( Asplenium nidus)

In Bintulu I have this stag horn fern ( Platycerium superbum) atop a lengthy small tree vying for filtered light and great humidity of the environment upstairs. They grow to extra length of about 2 m and often the sheer weight makes it fall off the tree which makes it easy to collect.

1 comment:

Protege said...

Do these "orchid" type plants live in symbiosis with the trees? Beautiful pictures, to me these images are as exotic as they can be. Here we are still in the middle of winter and snow is expected.;)
Many hugs back to Inul from Batcat; your tag is posted today.;))