Sunday, April 28, 2013

Prolific Lanete

On the sandy beaches of Pundaquit
Full with blooms
The pinwheel lanete flowers
Quick Post: My once regarded as elusive bloomer, the lanete or Wrightia pubescens var. laniti, does not seem to be very elusive at all.  For years I have been watching a sole tree near the UP College of Architecture flower, but to no avail.  But ever since I saw a flowering lanete in the coastal areas of Bangui in Ilocos, I keep on seeing lanete trees in bloom. In April alone I saw several trees flower in two location.  One was in Pundaquit, Zambales where like in Bangui they grow near sandy beaches.  The other is in Antipolo, hidden in the brushes of the remaining vegetation in a creek valley. Just shows that the tree not only bears nice cream flowers, but also resilient to extreme growing conditions.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Safari in Lagundi Country

The main kubo has the view of flowering banaba trees and dita against Mt. Natib
Small leveled part of the property
Flower detail of lagundi
I got an invite again to join Mam Ime Sarmiento on one of her adventures, this time to her friend Abe's farm. It was on rolling terrain in the outskirts of Bagac in Bataan.  The topography was interesting but a challenge to go into.  In fact we had to leave Mam Ime's vehicle at roadside and alight a weapons carrier to get to and around the farm.

Our ride
Sir Abe is in the pharmacy business. His farm is a previously logged area near the main road.  Since taking over the land he has planted some medicinal plants and it is now overgrown with lagundi or Vitex negundo. Apart from lagundi, the property also has other native plants with medicinal properties like banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa), sambong (Blumea balsamifera) and some more.

Wild sambong
The nutritious and medicinal coconut hovers over carpets of lagundi
Apatot or noni fruit also grows wild in the area
Unknown tree
But besides the farm's original pharma intention, Sir Abe has started planting a few dipterocarps and other native trees, particularly in the sheltered creeks, which still hides some areas  still teeming with vegetatve cover.  The new seedlings now grow side by side with the creek valley's original natives like bayag-usa, marang, antipolo, putat, paguringon, dita, balinawnaw, mambog, etc.

Banaba's pink flowers stand out among a sea of green
Traversing the creek valley
A tall wild dita tree
Sir Abe is protecting the cutting down of the native trees.  He is particularly proud of 3 very large specimens of an unknown tree we could not identify.  He also planted a kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) tree at a prominent part of the farm near the workers' quarters.  It has flowered this year with the famous malodorous blooms.  But even with the prompting fromworkers to cut down the bad smelling kalumpang, he stands firm not to do so.   Hope the workers would grow accustomed to its smell.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rafflesia Hunt!

Primeval Makiling
Against the backdrop of lush greens
Metchie on a fallen tree
It was something too good to pass on. I heard form Ron Achacoso that Rafflesia flowered in Mt. Makiling last week.  The flower lasts a few days so we took our chances and made the trip up the popular mountain. They said it is easy to see  provided the plant was still in bloom. 

Rafflesia is in the botany limelight as the genus of the biggest single flower.  The Makiling Rafflesia might not be the biggest, but to see a species in bloom is quite a rare experience.  The makiling Rafflesia might be R. manilensis.   Together with a few more friends, Noel, Ernie and Metchie, we set on our own journey to find one still in bloom.
The Makiling Rafflesia
Ernie who found the fresh bloom
Metchie trying to smell the stinker
We followed the forest ranger's instructions going up the trail but warned us to have a keen eye. We walked a couple of hours before we reached an area where we could already see a proliferation of the Tetrastigma vine, Rafflesia's plant host. A few minutes more, Noel and Ron spotted the first bloom, but already black and discarded.  There were a few buds, pending to open in a few days. But we still have to find one in full bloom and in dazzling red color.

Old flower
Ron and Noel checking out the specimen
It was Ernie who spotted the still bright  red Rafflesia flower, hidden in between the vine sprays and the leaf litter. It was on a steep slope, partly obscured from plain view by debris and the Tetrastigma branches.  We can't resist taking souvenir photos to commemorate the occasion.  I took numerous shots of the elusive plant celebrity, as many as I could.

The Makiling Rafflesia is about the size of a small plate.  Metchie wanted to know if it had the reputed putrid stink and drew her nose close to the open bloom. She regretted it.  She said the scent could compare to raw shrimp paste or bagoong, fresh from the market. I just took he word for it.

After a few more minutes of observing the Rafflesia and the surrounding flora, we went down the mountain trail with large smiles and the precious memory of personally encountering the largest stink flower of Makiling.  We hope that we get to find it again when we climb the mountain in many years to come.     

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Wild Creeper

Pundakit shore
Trees with crawling creepers
Memecylon covered up with Quisqualis
Lots of flowers
For a long time I have been asking around if Rangoon creeper or Quisqualis indica is native to the Philippines. For years  I have been getting different answers.  But recently I got to ask my botanist friend Ulysses Ferreras if the plant is indeed natve.  He said yes.  I believe him.

Flower detail
The first time I saw Quisqualis indica or niyog-niyogan (as called by Pinoys), it was sold as an ornamental.  So when I encountered it again growing wild in a creek in Cavite, I thought it was introduced. Then I saw it again near a waterfall in Ilocos.

Close up of vine spray
Today I got to see it again growing wild on trees in the coastal areas of Pundakit in Zambales.  It anchored itself on several Barringtonia and Memecylon trees.  Almost half of the trees in that part of the beach had Quisqualis growing on them.  I wonder if the area becomes fragrant with the overlapping smell of Barringtona and the Quisqualis.     

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Super Supa

Full flowering supa
The tree is partly covered by other trees
Flower spike detail
Passed by Los Banos because Ime said she was told that a Sindora supa or simply supa tree is in flower.  I have seen the supa tree behind Bahay ng Alumni flower 3 times.  I have taken pictures of it 3 times.  So hearing that another supa did not excite me.  

But when we got to the area where the tree is, we were enthralled.  The tree is in full bloom.  I never saw the Diliman tree as heavily burdened with blooms like this.  I left my camera in Mam Ime's car so I had to go back to grab it because it awesome.  I had to take pictures.
Full crown glory

The Tree Road Trip

White Lauan trees in Lucban 
Batitinan in Los Banos
Ron and Ime finding the right photo angle
Just another Friday. I woke up when the sun was not yet up and went on a road trip around Laguna and Quezon with friends Ronald Achacoso and Ime Sarmiento.

At 7 am we were braving the early morning traffic in Calamba.  A brief stop for breakfast and we were off looking around and taking pictures of trees and plants at roadside. We were at luck as we found some of the most interesting trees and shrubs in flower. The trip took us around Mt. Banahaw passing through Nagcarlan and Sariaya eventually to Tiaong and back again in Calamba. Talk about full circle!    
Antipolo in Nagcarlan