Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is full of interesting flora and fauna.  These are some of my encounters.
Poring Hotspring Area

An armored millipede which does not curl up when disturbed.

A green butterfly/moth which almost escaped my attention.  It look just like the leaf on which it was standing, with patterns on its wings imitating the veins and white spots/patches on the leaf.  Remarkable work of nature!!

Another strange looking butterfly/moth.  This one has a blue horn!!

An interesting colony of wild ginger with its fruit very near to the ground.

Wild Durian!!

I have long been fascinated by pictures of the wild Red Durian of Borneo so it is high on my priority on this Sabah trip.  Coincidentally, Durians are in season! However, every durian seller we met said that they either don't have the red variety or they have run out of it. This means that i must make another trip next year.  I managed to get some other varieties of wild durians such as the white flesh and yellow flesh types.  All of them are very round, smaller in size compared to commercial durian varieties and they have much longer spikes.

This is the white flesh variety.  The wild durians don't smell as strong as the commercial durians and i could hardly smell anything near the stall.

It does not taste as strong as regular durians and the flesh is what we would term "dry", in fact "sticky dry".  But it has the unmistable sweet durian aroma (if you love durians).  So everybody can't wait to get their fingers sticky.  It is a lovely treat.

Then of course there is the dark orange variety as well as the yellow variety.  They taste different than the white variety but also very "sticky & dry".


This is another of the 'must try' fruit when in Borneo.  It can be found all year round and is related to the Jackfruit, Chempedak and Breadfruit (Sukun or Sokun).  I know many people are not aware of the Breadfruit but somehow when i was young i knew it as Sokun from my kampong friends.  Anyway, back to the Tarap; i am very sure we have it in Bukit Timah nature reserve.  I remember seeing something similar when i was trekking along the paths.

The Tarap tastes sweet and the texture of the fruit is similar to Chempedak but does not have the strong Chempedak fragrance.  It has a bit of very weak curry-leaf  flavour mixed with the sweetness - very unique taste.  A must-try fruit as well.

Rafflesia keithii

How can one go to Borneo without seeing the magnificent Rafflesia!  We were so lucky that day cos the guide told us that there is one blooming just 1 minute walk away from the main road! People had to trek through the jungle and may not even see it!  Furthermore it was a NEW BLOOM!  It is Rafflesia Keithii.
Flies were hovering around the flower so they must have got the stench.


Ebony and Ivory

My black chili almost completely died out last year.  Luckily, i found a small surviving plant which produced one single small black chili with only 3 seeds.  I gave them all to Mrs Phua who managed to get two plants out of the 3 seeds.  She kept one plant while i kept the other and now i have my black chilis again.
The black chili starts off by being very dark and then slowly it looses some of the dark purple pigment,          taking on a bit of green before turning bright red.  This is when i must remove the chili or else it will become  bird/chicken food. 

The picture above shows the blck chili turning green.  It will soon become red and ready for picking.

The above is the white chili from an interesting uncle in Penang.  He won an award in Penang for his effort in converting the surrounding land into a very beautiful herb and vegetable plot.

This type of white chili does not turn red or orange in color.  When it is ripe, the chili looses its yellowish tinge and becomes pure white in color.


Impatens Balsamina

This is the flower of the Balsam plant that my mom insists i must grow.  I'm not quite a Balsam person but the flowers turns out to be really beautiful. 


Not Scotch Bonnet!! It's AJI ORCHID

Many thanks to Robert who pointed out to me that the Scotch Bonnet chili is really not as hot as i thought.  So last week i decided to cook some "Bak Kuk Teh" and use the Scotch Bonnet instead of the usual chili padi.  It was GOOD.  It has a nice flavour and is not hot at all, just a little spicy.

Sorry everyone.  This chili should be AJI ORCHID as described in http://www.thechileman.org/ .  That explains why the flower has a green patch and also the chili is only mildly hot.  The entire plant is very pretty when the chilis all turn red.  They look like little red lanterns.

This variety has many names: Balloon, Pimenta Cambuci, Campane, Peri Peri, Ubatuba Cambuci, Aji Flor, Bishops Crown and Bishops Hat. 

Barbados Cherry

I recently doubled the fertiliser dosage for all my plants and WOW!! The plants are now producing bigger , thicker leaves and fruiting profusely.  Just look at this yummy Barbados Cherry.


Longans harvested

After many weeks of developing, a few bags of Longans were ready to be harvested.  I bought the green netting from Far East, cut them to size and then used fishing line to sew each piece into a bag.  This is really useful against squirrrel attacks. 

This time the Longans were quite big, slightly bigger than a 50 cent coin.  I realised that i should not let too many bunches of fruit remain on the tree cos they drain the tree's  nutrients and leads to generally smaller fruits.

Many big Longans were produced this time. 


Red Hot Scotch Bonnet Chili(Correction : AJI ORCHID)

The scotch bonnet chilis are beginning to turn red.  These are piacs of two of them.  I am quite hesitant to use them cos they are supposed to be fiery hot.


Pineapple (Malaysian)

After growing for a year this pineapple plant finally decided to produce a pineapple.  The size of this pineapple is really the size of an apple.  Is this the reason for the name pine-apple?  What have i done to deserve this?  Yes, i must admit that i did not really care much for the plant but isn't it supposed to go find its own food around the roots?  And i did apply more fertilizer after i see the developing fruit.  Anyway i think i need to read up more on growing pineapples.

But i do have a neat trick to teach those who intend to plant your own pineapple:  Never use a knife to cut off the top of a pineapple if you intend to use it to get a new plant.  All you need to do is to get  a good grip on the top (wear gloves if you have tender hands), twist it clockwise in one strong move.  The top should come off cleanly bringing very little flesh with it.  All you need to do now is to leave the top in the open for 2 days so that it completely dries up.  After the bottom part of the top is dry you can then peel off some of the very small dried leaves to reveal very short developing roots.

You can now plant it and wait for a year to get your pineapple.  Hopefully it is bigger than an apple. Good Luck.


Dimocarpus longan

Nowadays it is easy to get cuttings of Longan plant already in fruit from the nurseries in singapore.  I heard that these plants are the result of many years of experimenting with hybridizing the local variety with the Thai variety. 

Actually Longans are native to S.E.Asia but cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics especially Thailand, Taiwan and China.  Dimocarpus longan var. malesianus, the mata kuching, is a subspecies of longan that is better adapted to tropical lowland conditions.  But this variety bears small fruit with thin, soft flesh which is not so appealing. But Mata Kuching has a slightly sweeter fragrance than Longan. 

This hybrid has qualities from the two types of Longans.  It is bigger than Mata Kuching, with thicker flesh which is softer than Longan, bears the Mata Kuching fragrance and is VERY sweet.

These pictures were all taken on the same day to show how crazy my tree is.  While it is bearing almost ripe fruits on some branches, others are already preparing to flower and there are flower buds in various stages of development.  It is truly a Longan tree gone crazy and it had been like this since two years ago so i get lots of  Longans almost every 3 months.

curcuma zedoaria

This is Curcuma ginger native to S.E Asia which i bought from Thailand where it is known locally as Khamin khun or khamin oi.  It has beautiful flower bracts which are of a very bright purplish red color.  The leaves have a purplish vein which runs alongs the inner side.


Flowers of Barbados Cherry

The interesting flowers of the Barbados Cherry is pink in color.  It is quite small and hardly qualifies as a beautiful flower.  But the cherries that come after the flowering is what i look forward to, unless the birds get to them first.


Scotch Bonnet chili

This new batch of fiery Scotch Bonnet chilis finally produced some fruits.  They are still green now but soon will be red and ready for harvest.  Chilis are heavy feeders so they must be given lots of fertilizers and fruits must be harvested and kept in the refrigerator to be used later.


Black Chili

I have been growing this black chili for many years now.  Many chili plants tend to die after they bear fruit for a few months so it is essential to keep some seeds.  Pollinate the flowers yourself if you don't want your chili to hybridise with other types nearby. 


Laksa Leaf ( Polygonum odoratum )

This is the leaf used in one of Singapore's most famous dish "Laksa".  There are many variations to this S.E.Asian dish, each having its own unique blend of spices and consequently leading to very different taste.  For example, Penang Laksa does not use this leaf at all.

The very popular hawker snack "otak-otak" also uses this leaf.

This herb is very easy to grow.  First go to the market and get a handful of the herb, pluck off most of the leaves leaving only the top un-plucked.  Stick the 5-6 inch stems into the ground and water them every morning.  You will soon have so much of the herb you'll want to give some away.