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Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresTrip to Malaysia, Part 1 (19 January 2012)

Latest Blog - Trip to Malaysia, Part 1

19 January 2012

Kuala Selangor

I visited Malaysia in November 2011, after having been to the World Orchid Conference in Singapore.

Kuala Selangor (or Selangor River mouth) was the royal capital of Selangor, a state in Malaysia. No longer the capital, today, it is more well know for its natural attractions, not the least are the fireflies (Pteroptyx tener), or kelip-kelip in the local language. These inhabit the mangroves along the river bank. They glow through bioluminescence, a process so effective, it converts more than 80% of energy into light. The light is primarily used to attract mates. The males blink at three times a second and the females twice a second.

The stand out feature is fireflies number in the thousands, and a tree with these insects blinking in unison is quite a sight.

Cameron Highlands This waterfall near the town of Bentong in the state of Pahang has an enormous volume of water cascading down several tiers. The whirlpools created by the churning water along with the strong current has claimed many lives in past years and there are many signs warning potential swimmers of the danger. The waterfall is at the edge of a Bukit Tinggi forest reserve, an ancient virgin forest that is rich in plant and animal life.


Chamang Waterfall


Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) in Bentong
See also: Birding in Malaysia


Blue selaginela (Selaginella willdenowii) growing on the forest floor.
Selaginella is a fern-ally that is intermediate between a moss and a fern.


A huge bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) by the river. This plant measured 2m across!

Epiphytes

Trees that line the car park were packed with epiphytes, mainly orchids.


Bulbophyllum purpureum orchid in flower.


Thrixspermum calceolus orchid in flower.

Thrixspermum calceolus has ephemeral flowers, meaning the flowers open only for a day. They are triggered by a drop in the temperature brought about by thunderstorms. Using temperature drop is a good way of synchronising the flowering of plants in the area, to ensure pollination despite the short flowering period. It is amazing and satisfying to see these and other wild flowers.

Another orchid that has ephemeral flowers is Dendrobium crumenatum, the pigeon orchid. Though it was not in flower, there was a plant with a seed pod. Plants were common and can be found growing on trees that line the motorways of KL.


Dendrobium crumenatum plant in Bentong, insert is the seed pod.


See also: Dendrobium crumenatum

My next trip will be in November. I plan to visit more parks. This time I will also visit Singapore for the World Orchid Conference then lead a tour up Malaysia.


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