WSBEorchids

A living fossil on Santubong?

We have come across some great animals on our trip, but surely, one of the weirdest is this female Trilobite Beetle (the males look completely different) It is about 6cm long and is called a Trilobite due to its resemblance to the long extinct family of sea creatures, but it is not a living fossil, it is and insect, and a rather fascinating one.

Enormous thanks to our fantastic guides for the day on Santubong, Zulfadhi and Yeo. We will be keeping in touch for orchid related conversation.

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Exploring Santubong with MRSM students

Santubong is the mountain we have been looking at since we arrived in Kuching and today we explored its forests with MRSM students.

We crossed rivers, climbed up and down ravines, and came across an array of Borneo’s biodiversity.

Orchids were not abundant but did include some gigantic Grammataphyllum speciosum

There were also the tiny flowering orchids Agrtostrophyllum tenue and Bulbophyllum coriaceum.

 

We also found some great frogs – one on a leaf:

and one at a waterfall – can you spot it?

 

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Dimorphorchis lowii – 365 days of orchids – day 1050

There was no question that today’s orchid of the day had to be Dimorphorchis lowii (Amalia’s favourite) This is a real orchid mystery as it is the only genus that produces two types of hermaphrodite (male and female combined) on a single spike. The top few flowers are yellow and rounded (two on this plant) while the lower flowers covering the long dangling spike (up to 3m long) are red and white and much finer. Even more surprisingly the top flowers are strongly fragrant and the lower ones aren’t. What is going on? The really exciting thing is that no one knowsas there is no good evidence of pollination biology. Are there two different pollinators?

The species is endemic to Borneo and we have seen it several times including under a Bornean Pit Viper in Mulu (below)

It is a really big growing orchid with thick leaves to 70cm long and thick pendulous stems up to 2m long. The flowers are very widely spaced on the long spikes. We have seen the plant flourishing in hot lowland forest low on trees with some shade.

Amalia is particularly excited to find that there is a second species, Dimorphorchis rossii which is smaller all round.

We will see if we can find this species again in the forest over the next two days.

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