Sunday, April 26, 2009

C. cf. xpurpurea nothovar. purpurea 'Mersing Barat'

C. xpurpurea nothovar. purpurea was found by H.N. Ridley in 1892, near Kota Tinggi in Johor state of Malay Peninsula. Last year, two cryptcoryne enthusiasts from Malaysia (Joshua and Herman) published on their blog about their expedition trip in South-east Johor on boats where they found large carpet of blooming C. xpurpurea.

I tried to locate the same location during one day last year with my explorer friend but failed to do so due to lack of time. The main river branches into too many smaller rivers and a trip up some of these smaller rivers could take a few hours each. Nevertheless, it was a very enriching trip, travelling up the river observing how the river side vegetation changed from brackish to freshwater, and seeing large hornbills and smaller kingfishers flying across the wide river. It felt like being in the Amazon of south east Asia!

Another famous location where C. xpurpurea could be found is in Tasik Bera in Pahang state, the largest natural lake in Malay Peninsula. My explorer friend negotiated with some 'Orang Asli' to help to collect these cryptocorynes in return for some cash, instead of collecting the plants himself to provide some economic support to these indigenous minority peoples. This is how the C. xpurpurea from Tasik Bera looked like:

My explorer friend also managed to locate the C. cf. xpurpurea from another locality at Mersing Barat (west of Mersing) and I was lucky to be able to visit this natural habitat with him last weekend. The cryptocorynes could be found in a small flowing stream beside the edge of a forest, the leaves being brownish in colour generally, were well camouflaged among the dead leaves and thick hair grass in the stream and could easily be missed. The underside of the leaves were very purplish red and marred with black markings.

The water level was quite low and many emersed specimens could be located along the banks on the stream. The base substrate of the stream comprise mainly of sand and the pH of the water measured was about 5.5.

We bashed into the forest hoping to find more carpets of cryptocorynes but there was none, perhaps we did not bashed deep enough. I collected 2 itchy and irritating leech bites instead from this forest.

We found an unopened spathe and collected the specimen back. It opened one day later in my house. Below are some photographs of the spathe. I cut it opened during day 6 of the spathe opening, after the spathe started to rot and fall sideways.

The cryptocorynes from this location were identified as C. xpurpurea nothovar. purpurea in a recently published book on cryptocorynes. Comparing these specimens to the photographs of C. xpurpurea from the more classic locations of Kota Tinggi and Tasik Bera, these from Mersing Barat:
  1. lack the yellowish throat,
  2. have thicker red collar,
  3. have browner leaves with redder underside of leaves,
  4. are smaller in size and
  5. have slightly longer stigmas.
Maybe the differences were caused by the differences in their natural habitat environment (i.e. substrate, type of habitat, pH, etc). My friend thought that they looked more similar to C. jacobsenii instead so he termed them as C. cf. jacobsenii in his blog. What do you think, should these specimens from Mersing Barat be considered as C. purpurea or something else?

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