Monday, June 28, 2010

Palawan the Plant

I went with some international as well as local botanists to do some field work near Manila and their destination of choice was Laguna. We tried finding the nearest patch of forest to look for asclepiads (members of the subfamily Asclepiadaceae, native genus are Hoya and Dischidia) and figs (species of the genus Ficus). While they were trying to spot their specific plant targets near a stream valley, we came across probably one of the largest native aroids (members of the family Araceae which includes the common taro) which is palawan, or Cyrtosperma merkusii.

From what I know is Palawan the province was indeed named after this plant. C. merkusii is the largest Cyrtosperma in the world, hence it is another unique plant found in the Philippines. It grows in the boggy parts of the Luzon forest, particularly in Quezon to Bicol. In fact the Bicolanos treat it as a root crop and cultivate it for its starchy tuber. They prepare it probably with gata, similar how they eat taro or gabi, Colocasia esculenta, which is also native in the Philippines.

3 comments:

Apicio said...

We have a swimming hole around five kilometers uphill from the Bataan coast facing Manila Bay that is profuse with this gabi-like plant whose Tagalog name I never found out (while I was there) and whose tubers I did not even suspect edible. Now I know, thanks to your informative blog.

The naming of places after plants found therein is a practice as old as humanity and can therefore be found anywhere you go. In Bataan we have places called Katmon, Kupang and Kamachile, to name just a few. In Manila we have of course, Sampaloc and Pajo while here in Canada, we have Saskatoon, the capital of Saskachewan named after a berry that you can make into an astringent/tart summer drink like our bignay.

metscaper said...

thanks for your comment. I have earlier blogs, i think the very first 2, about places named after trees here in the Philippines.

Tyrone Rex said...

I am from Iloilo and now living in Pangasinan. Our househelp from Bicol was preparing to cook something which I suspect to be Palawan. In Iloilo we do not eat this plant and even suspect it as poisonous. I scrambled to search the net for any information about the plant. Thanks to you, I am now enlightened.