With the camera handphone on my right hand, I tried hard to pull over "Jane", but she left me flabbergasted. Jane won.
I meant to write about the striking but tough climber at my eco-farm sometime ago. Today, being a Sunday I have more hours of leisure time to come to terms with her. I'll like to call her "Jane" because she reminds me of the imagery of the forest when people talk about the jungle, jungle people or jungle adventure. As one writer eloquently recalls "No writer or artist describing a 'jungle' has ever left out the snaky stems of the climbers or lianas, nor has any jungle dweller remained unaware of their flexible usefulness. Even in films, the camera lingers on these ropes of the forest. Breatheless, we admire Tarzan as he swings halooing through trees or sails across some incredible chasm hanging on the end of a thick vine; or, variously, we are filled with horror when our hero grasps a climber we know is really a deadly serpent, so sleek are the skins of both" (W.Veever-Carter, Riches of the Rain Forest). Well, this morning I had a tug-of-war with "Jane", the leguminous climber - Bauhinia ( see top picture). For the moment I'm unable to say 100% sure what the real name of the species I have at my farm. Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes it could be a very close relative of the Bauhinia kockiana which are constantly seen in urban parks and homes since it is more flamboyant in its flowering, sturdy and a vigorous climber of pergolas. I find that the Bauhinia kockiana has mainly dark orange flowers which are much larger than the species I have at the farm. The species here have both yellow and orange flowers of slightly smaller sizes. It is the philosophy of my eco-farm to leave as much natural stand of original rain forest vegetation islands as possible. There are many such micro eco-systems islands scattered at the farm 20-acre site, over swampy and flooded plains, undulating forested jungle fringes, covered hill tops and dark and damp valley slopes and basins. All these to ensure that my oil palm holding is vested inside a sustainable and biologically diverse environment, with dense variety of wildlife to complement. Only in this respect could I see the oil palm holding be sustainable in the long run.
The Bauhinia is a genus of legumes which are represented in the form of trees, shrubs or climbers mostly in tropical and sub-tropical climates. As a climber they need tall trees to cling to and for the Bauhinia this is no big deal because they have soft tendrils that could do the twining process simple and early, then unnoticed they slowly envelop the old trees or shrubbery with its maze of twiners, flowers and green leaves making some perceive wrongly that a tree is in flower, as in the picture above.
The Bauhinia kockiana originated from Sumatra. They are loved for their frequently blooming flowers that resemble some orchid species e.g. the golden showers. They can be effectively trained over an arch or support or any old tall tree. When in flower they are very showy, producing blooms in racemes ( i.e. flower-cluster with separate flowers attached by short equal stalks, at equal distances along the central stem). Bauhinias love full sun and grows well in deep soil. I am hoping to get some seeds from this plant after the flowering season is over though I know they rarely set fruit. Anyway, if I can't get any pods, I might propagate some from its green or semi-woody cuttings later.
Above is an example of a Bauhinia kockiana showing deep orange flowers and a flattened brown seed pod that normally hangs out for months. Note the charateristic 2-lobed leaf.
Location : Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak.