My Trip to Malaysia pt.1.

Alastair Robinson (
20 Aug 95 04:59:28 EDT

Malaysia Trip 1995

Each year or so, I head back home to Malaysia during the summer to visit
my dad, old friends and of course to see my favourite plants in the
wild. This trip took me to some localities of plants which I have
visited several times in the past as well as to some new sites.
I departed for Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, on
Mon. 17th
of July on the 12.00 noon flight from London Heathrow Airport (Malaysian
Airlines) and arrived there at about 7.00 am the next day, Malaysian
time. The rest of the day was spent at home relaxing.
I found my first plants on the 21st after a day or two of walks
in the
area surrounding my father's house. Quite ironically, the single
specimen, the Nepenthes sp. I mentioned having found in my note " I'm
back", was growing only five minutes away, at the end of a road opposite
to the house; I had been taking extremely long walks all over the place
without finding anything. I first saw a Nepenthes as I stopped at the
end of this road ( a steeply descending cliff) and turned to go back
home; it was a Nepenthes mirabilis growing on a fairly steep rockface,
completely hidden but for one large pitcher I would not have noticed had
it not been bright rusty red from sunburn. A short scramble up the
incline on the side of the road brought me close to the plant, and I was
able to see a second specimen growing near to it. Having climbed down
again with much caution, as the rock type was very crumbly and kept
breaking off underfoot , I scanned the rest of the rockface for any
other plants and was rewarded when I caught sight of the Nepenthes sp.,
almost a monster in size, growing under some access/escape stairs
scaling the rockface, that led to a large enclosure housing some
generators, and also indirectly to a block of flats nearby. The many
growing points were very long and grew trailing downhill. The fine
upper pitchers were very conspicuous and attractive, the lowers less
noticeable because of their dark clouration, but quite beautiful anyhow.
I came back with my camera and took several photographs which, I hope
will come out well. I found another specimen, again solitary, on a
facing hill, 40 mins walk away, but I could not get near it. As for
this plant, I took some cuttings on my last day and hope that they will
The next day, Saturday 22nd, my father and I drove up a mountain
close to
K.L. upon which there are several resort hotels and appartments. We
rented an appartment for the night and at around 4.00 pm, I went of in
search of peninsular Malaysia's three mountain Nepenthes, ie.
gracillima, macfarlaneii, sanguinea and of course, their hybrids, and my
dad watched TV.
After about half an hours walk, I arrived at a road which led up
telecommunications tower. Following this, I came to a bend in the road
where the road was forced to curve around a large granite outcrop ( upon
which sat the telecommunications tower ) . Looking about in the
undergrowth at the base of the cliff, I found a small Nepenthes
macfarlaneii ( About a foot high.) with large pitchers up to 27 cm tall
with the most attractive colouring; pale cream streaked strongly with
rich purple. The lower pitchers generally came in two forms in the
area, cylindrical or ovate, with a strong constriction below the
peristome in the latter. The upper pitchers all posessed the
constriction and were infundibulate.
Many small plants were scattered about with the occassional
specimen here and there. Continuing up the road a few yards, I found a
very young Nepenthes gracillima growing on the cliff wall at waist
level. Unlike with the former species, pitchers are more uniform with
the plant's size. On N. macfarlaneii, one can find, on tiny plants,
pitchers two or three cm long, on N.gracillima, the pitchers are much
smaller on similar sized plants.
Certainly, Nepenthes gracillima is a very attractive species;
all its
pitchers, except in a less common form, are almost jet black to
extremely dark brown with a contrasting white interior.
I soon found larger plants with 20 cm and occassionally larger
The older plants seemed to have a much darker colour and the dark brown
pitchers seemed non-existant in these older plants.
Next, where the ground levelled out on the road side, I ventured
waist high grass and found a prostrate Nepenthes sp., about one metre
long. I assume it was N.sanguinea as, though it was pitcherless, next
to it were some small N.sanguinea-macfarlaneii hybrids. The pitchers
were green with reddish purple dappling and the peristomes were very
robust, but fine, deeply coloured red and yellow; macfarlaneii's hybrids
do seem to be very attractive.
Following a trail that led to a 'mini-summit' in the area, I
several large N.macfarlaneii and gracillima and, after trudging up a
'stairway' of soggy, rich peat, I found a green N.sanguinea in seed. At
the same place, I was trying to photograph a small pitcher of a hybrid,
but because the foliage was getting in the way, I had to pull some of it
away and, to my great delight, I had revealed the most beautiful , large
pitcher of the previous hybrid. It was at least 30 cm tall from base to
lid tip (Which was at about forty -five degrees) and was undescribably
beautiful. I just hope that my photos come out!
After this, I ran out of film, and so just looked around a bit
returning to the appartment. My return journey brought me to the
realization that Nn. macfarlaneii and gracillima seedlings and some
larger plants grew on virtually all bare cliffs throughout the resort
area; and there were a lot of cliffs!
The next day, my dad and I returned there in the car so that I
could get
some more photos and so he could see the plants too. I saw two more
N.sanguinea in the green form near to where I saw my first Nepenthes in
the area. We then followed the road for several miles past the telecom.
tower just to see what there was; I found a magnificent red form of
N.sanguinea with a ruby red peristome. The single plant had only one
pitcher and this one pitcher happened to be very large; about30 cm tall,
not including lid! There were also some aerial pitchers of this form
hanging from some trees on the roadside, but these were not as large.
We proceeded home after this. The next weekend, Sat. 27th
July, we went to a golf club north of K.L.
near a small town called Serendah in Rawang. I came here last year and
found Nepenthes gracilis, mirabilis, and what I now know is
N.reinwardtiana. Before turning off the main road, into the golf club,
I noticed a lake, yellow with Utricularia blooms. It would probably
have been U. aurea or possibly U.flexuosa, I did not have a chance to
investigate further. Having settled into our appartment ( we owned this
one.) , I departed to see how the local Nepenthes were doing - they
were all there! I noticed two Nepenthes mirabilis in particular that
were each about a foot high last year, which are now the largest
Nepenthes plants I have ever seen; at leat four or five metres and each
with huge inflorescences with internodes of almost a foot long towards
the top.
I took myself into new territory, opened up by the building of a
internal road between he appartments and the club house about two or
three miles away . The road itself was not finished and ran part of the
way between the two establishments. On one side of the road was a large
open area at the end of which was an almost dry river-bed. Growing on
the banks were specimens of Nepenthes gracilis and mirabilis as well as
one single not quite tiny N.ampullaria. This was a surprise as the area
was very dry and I had never seen any others anywhere else in the area.
Its parents must have been growing in the nearby forest. It is quite
surprising, but I have not once seen a wild N.rafflesiana. Last year, I
visited Mersing, a well known coastal town on the east coast where I
found large specimens of N.ampullaria and gracilis. N.rafflesiana was
reportedly more common than N.ampullaria in that area yet I had no luck!
Our next trip was a one day visit to 'Fraser's Hill', a hill
resort area
that was popular among colonial English as the temperatures are much
cooler and the air more fresh. The trip was not really very interesting
and all we found was a few green N.sanguinea although orchids were quite

Well, that's all for the moment, I hope what I have written has
vaguely interesting! I shall continue when I find the time.

P.S. I have not named the mountain for obvious reasons and
apologise to
anyone who may have wanted to know.