Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Avoided Plant of the Philippine Forest

I was sent some beautiful flowering tree pictures by Mike Asinas of Ayala Land. They are flowers of I would say the most dreaded plant in our rainforests. It is simply called lipa (probably where the city Lipa was named after). Lipa are small shrubs to trees belonging to the genus Dendrocnide, members of the nettle family Urticaceae. The one pictured is probably Dendrocnide meyeniana or lipang kalabaw.

A seasoned mountaineer would probably recognize this plant even without flowers. Not doing so will be unfortunate. The leaves could inflict serious skin irritation or pain which could last quite sometime. It is a shame as the inflorescence is quite impressive.

A year ago I got to see the gardens of Pundacion Pacita in Batanes. I saw specimens of this plant proudly displayed with flowers in a prominent area in their garden (background plant of the topiaries - upper right hand corner). I am not sure if the owners know that the plant has this nasty reputation or just that they were so enamoured with the pretty flowers. Or would the Abads know a secret how to keep them in the garden without getting the itch?


PinoyApache said...

We have one here in Cebu called the "alingatong" and it stings when touched.

metscaper said...

I wonder what species that is.

JunBo said...

The most common way of treating the itch is to douse the infected part with vinegar or ammonia. If the two chemicals are not available, the worst solution (w/c actually works!) is to have someone urinate on the infected part.

metscaper said...

hehehe. parang jelly fish pala.