Friday, July 8, 2011

Species you might not have!

These plants are all volunteers in the neglected areas of the property. However, the first plant served as property boundary and also serve as soil erosion control. You can see that at its back grows a lot of several forest species.  Other plants also grow with several plants in the wild. 

Banaba, giant crape myrtle or Lagerstroemia speciosa

 This is an old volunteer tree in our property, more than 50 yrs old with bottom trunk diameter of ~2ft. I am not good in estimating height, but maybe about  the height of a 4storey building.  The left is the bottom trunk, lower right is the mid-trunk with branches and the top right is the canopy with flowers. It is endemic to the country, not considered endangered yet. Those we see in parks of colder countries are already hybrids, early to flower and not very tall.

Its leaves have therapeutic or medicinal properties for kidney troubles and very popular here in the country. Despite its origins in the Philippines, India and SE Asia, it is considered naturalized US plant and is considered official shrub of Texas.

Elephant ear, giant taro or  Alocasia macrorrhiza

Our local term for this is "biga", in contrast to the common taro, "gabi". It is nice to have the syllables just interchanged in calling 2 plants with almost the same morphology. It also has corms, which sometimes are cooked lengthily as pig feeds. The specimens above differ in leaf morphology and might be of different variety or form. Its sap is very dangerous at contact that children evade them totally. However, in times of famine or war it can also be considered emergency food when cooked fully well. I agree that they are beautiful as ornamental plants, however in our country it is not utilized as such for safety. Its sap contains oxalate crystals toxic to animals and humans.

 elephant yam or Amorphophallus campanulatus

Amorphophallus campanulatus got the name because of the very prominent spadix. This is a large aroid genus, where the biggest flower of Titan arum (A. titanum) belongs. It has a big carbohydrate-rich roots underground called tubers. Only one leaf emerges and lasts for one season. That stem-like part in the photo is the petiole of the single leaf. In times of food shortage, this serves as an emergency food. That was the story of my late father as relayed to him by his father as experienced during the Japanese occupation. This plant dries totally during the dry season, but sprouts after the first heavy rains. The flower emerges first followed by the leaf. It only produces one flower per plant per year.

 The flower sprouts directly from the ground,  those showy part is the bract which enclose the sticky flowers at the bottom of the spadix. When the top central portion or spadix opens it emits the foul odor of decaying animals, in turn attracting flies that pollinate it. These plant will probably become extinct in settled areas, because humans immediately cut the flower upon sight to avoid the bad odor emitted after a few days from emergence. This specimen was actually cut by some people, i just salvaged it for this photo, because i might not be privileged to see this flower again in the future.



  1. The elephant yam is a strange plant.

  2. HI Andrea, That is one huge Crepe Myrtle.. WOW!!!

    Great pictures... Your area always looks so green and fertile... Thanks for sharing.

  3. Do you have the A. Campanulatus in your property? I wish people won't destroy them just because they emit bad odor.

    What is that plant in the collage on the right of the Amorphophallus?

  4. Yes Donna - it is a bit strange. But the Titan arum, if you google it is famous as the tallest flower.

    Betsy - it looks like you already forgot our area in the dry season, haha! In rainy season we are really green and looking fertile.

    SR - yes we have it in ours. I can't decipher which plant on the right of the amorphophallus you are referring to, there are lots of them.

  5. Wow, that is one of the tallest Lagerstroemia speciosas I've ever seen. Here we commonly call them Queen's Myrtle. I have two growing on my property but they're nowhere near as tall as your gorgeous specimen.

    I also have the Alocasia macrorrhiza. I've just had to cut it right back as it's growing in my shadehouse garden and had grown as tall as the shadecloth roof. The leaves were startgin to lift the shadecloth. So it's not a giant Elephant Ear anymore!

    I've never seen an Elephant Yam before. It's a most unusual plant and obviously what we would call 'bush tucker'. It's something that is a native and can be eaten ... bush food.

  6. Fabulous tropical plants Andrea, especially the Amorphophallus!

  7. Wow, what a beautiful specimen of that crepe!! I have the Queen's Crepe, Lagerstroemia speciosa also, bought about 3 years ago and eagerly await the blooms every year. It was hard to find, even though I saw them around the area. I did finally find a place that had 'one', and we went out and bought it. It is probably the most expensive plant that we ever bought.

    What an unusual plant the elephant yam is.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  8. Andrea,

    That elephant yam is really something! Shame foolish people cut them down. I think humans might not be native to this planet.

  9. That last photo is a little creepy. Great informative post here.

  10. How do you have a volunteer amorphophallus? That's amazing! And I had no idea the stalk/stem/trunk was a petiole. So cool!

  11. Wow, some wild and wonderful plants there!

  12. My Crape-Myrtle is blooming now. I really wish my small tree will grow to be as old and huge as yours. I love the purple flowers but not the dried up seed pods.

  13. we had a crape myrtle infront of our house in pi. i have forgotten what it was called in tagalog. can you refresh my memory please. thanks.

  14. You're right! We don't have those species here in Alberta! The odd yam is definitely discussion worthy, being so unique.

    Thanks for sharing this informative posting!

  15. That crepe myrtle is amazing, as is that elephant yam. I've ard of them but never seen such a detailed photo. Thanks for a very informative post!

  16. OMG!!! these are amazing! I am jealous that you have these things just growing around!!!
    Thanks for linking in and sharing your flaunt today!!! I always love seeing all the pretties everyone shares! Have a great weekend friend

  17. Everyone of these plants is a new and exotic species for me! What a wonderful visit to see things I'd never encounter in my every day life. This was a wonderful post.

  18. aloha andrea,

    what amazing plants your showing us today, one favorite is the amorphallus, those are quite rare here, thanks for sharing this

  19. The volunteers sure are enthusiastic. :)

    I can understand why people would want to cut down a flower that smells like rotten meat, but it is a shame the plant may die out in populated areas.

  20. Bernie - because you have real fertile soil i am not surprised to see your elephant ear that tall! To complete your elephant collection you should have elephant yam, haha!

    I think the L speciosa now available in commerce are the hybrid species, because they dont grow tall like ours, and the flower stems are not the same, even the flowering habits are different. It is said it has been researched much already, so what you have can be a product of technology, while ours is the wild type, which could be grown for timber.

    Flower Lady - please refer to my reply to Bernie above. In addition, if only it is that expensive here, then i can be rich for i can sell a lot to them, haha! A lot of seedlings are growing voluntarily in our property. Maybe i should sell them.

    Randy - hahaha, yes that is true, but if there's a lot of people then biodiversity are sometimes sacrificed.

    Darla - thank you for visiting, i think this is your first time here.

    NotSoAngryRedhead - a lot of volunteer seedlings show up in our property. But the Amorphophallus might have been there since the start of time, haha! If it's near populated areas or near some paths, then people usually cut them before sprouting.

    Bridget - thanks also for your visit here, your first time.

    Autumn Belle - pls refer also to my reply above to Bernieh. In addition, i noticed that the hybrids today have lots of seedpods than ours, and they really dont look beautiful.

  21. Photo Cache - i think i wrote it in the text of the post, it is 'banaba'.

    Shirley - thanks also for dropping by, i am sure it is not possible to grow it in Canada.

    Cathy and Steve - I am glad if i can show some unique species, which i know most of you are not familiar. Thanks for visiting.

    Tootsie - thanks for the kind words, i always try to link whenever i have the time even if i am at the last number. We appreciate your hosting Fertilizer Friday.

    Karen - thanks for appreciating unknowns in your part of the world. I titled it like that because i am almost sure many haven't seen them.

    Noel - hi you are back, seems like you have been on vacation for a long time. Are you resurecting the Hot, Loud and Proud Meme?

    EG Wow - to save it from extinction, I am surely allowing its unfavorable splendor to be released unabashedly in our property. It is one of my dreams to save endemic species in our property. Thanks.

  22. I like your note about the A. campanulatus being treated as "emergency food" according to your father who learned such from your grandfather. Actually, where I come from, the whole plant is used as feed for backyard pigs (if chopped to pieces then boiled and mixed with rice bran or corn grits) and helps make local pork organically delicious or at least chemical free. Moreover, this may sound strange to other readers: but the stem/petiole of the unopened leaf/flower is good side dish when roasted over hot embers, pealed, sliced to bite sizes, then dipped in sugarcane vinegar that has red-hot chili in it. Indeed, its flesh tastes better than the petioles of taro/gabi and goes well with gin!

  23. Hello anonymous - you should have left your return link so i can communicate with you well. Maybe you are also from this patch of earth i am in. Actually, it was being given to pigs in the past, my mother told me too. People also eat them after long preparation to get off the itchy crystals. However, this is the first time i heard about the petiole or trunk being eaten too. That is amazing. I hope we wont get into the time of emergency, but that will remain at the back of my mind. Thanks for visiting and the wonderful information. I just regret you didn't leave your link.

  24. Hi Andrea, Thanks for stopping by my own blog and commenting on my amorphophallus.I appreciate the info! I don't know why it is referred to voodoo lily here. Maybe because the flower smells like a dead animal, and I know voodoo involves animal sacrifices. The plant is also called corpse plant and devil's tongue. I appreciate seeing it in its native land!

    I also love the photo of the giant crepe myrtle. Crepe myrtles also grow here. There was one behind my childhood home that was at least forty feet tall. Most of them here, however, are kept pruned to much smaller dimensions.

  25. How sad that the last plant (campanulatus?) was cut. It had history with stories from your grandfather. Something nice to tell your kids.


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