Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New variant of rare flower found in Camerons

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: It is a plant with an awful stench but its beauty is enough to stop nature-lovers in their tracks.

The Amorphophallus bufo, a rare species found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, sparked interest when news of its discovery here broke last year.

But there is fresh excitement now with the sighting of a new variant with reddish and pinkish flowers.

Local environmentalist and orchid enthusiast Embi Abdullah, 60, said he and his friend N. Madi were trekking when they spotted the reddish bloom in the jungles of Gunung Jasar, Tanah Rata, here.

Most Amorphophallus bufo flowers were brown with white spots, he said.

Within just a week, Embi and several others came across a colony of more than 10 of the plants, five of them in bloom.

“You only get to see these flowers once every five or six years,” Embi said in Brinchang here.

He added that the highlands Amorphophallus bufo, measuring about 1.5m in height, was unusually tall and dwarfed other Amorphophallus species.

“The Amorphophallus is also a plant found in warmer lowlands, so the Cameron Highlands species is even more unique,” he added.

Embi said a group of them planned to approach the district officer or the state forestry department with a proposal to set up an Amorphophallus conservatory.

“The Amorphophallus might have some medicinal value and the conservatory could be used for research and maybe tourism purposes.

“In India, the tuber of one Amorphophallus species has even been used as food,” he added.

The group also hoped to consult fellow environmentalist Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, who recently led a group of scientists in finding another variety of the plant during a Forest Research Institute of Malaysia expedition.

Source : TheStar online

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