Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The "Queen of Sarawak Palm" blossoms

In Bintulu, and enjoying the garden and forest views here. I have a tough day at the farm today but what kept my spirits up was a rare scene of the lakka palm, aka renda ( Cyrtostachys renda/ Cyrtostachys lakka) in full bloom. The renda is an extremely lovely palm for me. Her smooth trunk is surrounded by bright red leafsheaths making her recognizable from a distance. In my opinion it should be named the Queen of Sarawak palms. It is a native of Sarawak or Malaysia and Borneo for that matter. Its original habitat is peat swamp forests but is so versatile that it can be grown in big pots for corporate offices, in residential homes, roadsides and many types of urban landscapes. In Bintulu, the bright red stem and crown shaft are used to decorate arches and for many other ornamental uses e.g. school parade grounds, grandstands, etc., At the inset is a close-up view of the flower stalks. You have to be lucky to catch a glimpse of it when it is still a short palm because in the wild the palm can reach 30 meters high and its flowering magic will be missed. But not to worry here it is for every one to marvel - WYSWYG!!

Very rarely seen blossoms of the renda
The flower stalk of the renda has many branches with each about 30 - 70 cm long. The creamy white flowers are very small and not scented. From my observation, the flower buds are set in a pit. When the flowers fall and seeds develop, the latter are held intact in the same pit.

Dark, mysterious and delicious -looking like black grapes
It is from these seeds that the renda can be propagated. I have experimented with germinating the seeds before but it takes minimum about 2 to as long as 9 months for them to burst into life. Therefore when looking for a quick fix, I would normally remove a sucker from the clump to have an instant renda palm of various heights.
Inspired by Black Beauty

Today I am inspired. I scouted for a few flowering heliconia species at my garden to team up with the attractive dark seeds of the renda. To heighten the rich colours further, I did not hesitate to add the light red leaves of the "Red Ti" ( Cordyline terminalis) . I have had many experiments with exotic daily cut flowers before but this is the first time I'm using the seeds of the renda. I thought of using a cylindrical bamboo -weaved container to obscure the white glass vase inside.

The result is shown below. The dark orange with green tips latispatha, the " Sassy Pink" and the yellow "Golden Torch" have brought much live to the otherwise dark and mysterious stalk of the renda. I would like to name this floral composition " Black Sweet ". In Sarawak it is common to hear of people calling a darkish brown complexion lady as "Hitam Manis" ( Malay, literally translated 'Black sweet') especially when her smile is of the captivating type. So for all those lovely hitam manis girls out there, this one is for you.

Floral arrangement # "Black Sweet"

For more exotic looking floral arrangement that is inspired by the Kambatik garden please check it out here.

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