Today two botany graduate students from NTU were out by the path looking for a very rare plant, called 赤箭, a kind of gastrodia. Don’t worry, I had never heard of these before today either. In the words of Dr Subhuti Dharmananda* > http://www.itmonline.org/arts/gastrodia2.htm < “Gastrodia (tianma) is a very unusual plant. It contains no chlorophyll and has no green color in it. Lacking chlorophyll, it cannot produce its nutrients from sunlight as do most plants. Moreover, it has no roots; in the ground is a rhizome (tuber) that appears sealed shut from the soil environment.”
~~*須菩提‧達摩阿難達 ~~ 這名字棒極了!!
Apparently, a botanist had discovered this plant nearby some time in the early 1990s, flowering on February 25, but his description of the location was rather vague: “near the path up Silogan in a patch of cinnamon bamboo.” Well, that sounds like this area, so they were out searching for it for the third year in a row, without success. The plant flowers for a few days and disappears until the next year, and the color is not eye-catching, so you have to be pretty lucky to find one, especially since they are so rare.
After a while, they found its close relative, a 冬赤箭. I went out to take a look and some photos. A few days ago I had seen something very similar, but had not paid it too much attention. I could not say if it was the same or not, only similar, and pointed out the general area I saw it.
We admired their find and examined it closely. The botanists cleared some space around it so we could take photos and see it clearly. They told me it was an unusually large specimen. Wonderful! I felt very proud of Wulai. Just then Byajing came barging through and snapped the precious rarity off at the stem. I was horrified! The botanists took what was left of the plant back to their university for further study. “Don’t worry,” they told me, “It will flower again next year.”
So much for our contribution to botany.
If you want something technical on the subject, http://www.press.ntu.edu.tw/ejournal/Files/taiwan/200603/8.pdf
Anyway, Happy leap day.