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Borneo Trip 2009 Part II

Borneo Trip Part II - Mt.Trusmadi and Mesilau (Mt.Kinabalu)

Mt.Trusmadi - a very different mountain from Mt.Tambuyukon!

At the outset you could notice the difference in the coolness and moisture even low down on this mountain. You could drive to about 800m and we had some showers as soon as we entered the gate. We drove until the road had been washed out and crossed the fast flowing stream by foot, walking through water along the track until we started climbing. As soon as we entered the mountain path mosses and ferns were growing all over and became more abundant as we climbed. This mountain did not seem as difficult as Mt.Tambuyukon but tricky in its own way with the slippery roots and logs across the steep track.

    The main gate to Mt.Trusmadi.   As far as you can drive at present.

                      N.tentaculata plants at about 1000m

                                 Some views of the steep track!


  Our camp on Mt. Trusmadi. It was cosy to say            Mt. Kinabalu from our camp site.  

      the least.  3 of us in this little tent!  


           N.tentaculata at higher altitude.                  N.lowii was all around our camp


                  N.lowii wind chimes !                           The pitchers are huge on this form!           

An interesting observation we made was that the different sexes of N.lowii were all together and at different altitudes! If I recall correctly the female plants were first and the males were higher up. There wasn't a distinct line but it was very noticeable. I do not kow why and could not see a reason for it.



  It has been speculated for years that the Tree Shrew faeces was supplemental to N.lowii's 'diet'. From what we saw on this mountain it was it's staple diet! There was hardly a pitcher that didn't contain the droppings and I did not see a pitcher with any exudate left under its lid!


   Looking back on our camp from higher up.               The track higher up.



    Abundant moss on the track.          N.lowii growing with N.macrophylla just up from our camp 


 The next step there was  N.xtrusmadiensis!           N.xtrusmadiensis - notice the scat!             



                 N.macrophylla lower down just up from our camp, growing epiphytically.



          100 metres to the top!                               They were all around!

As we kept climbing the N.macrophylla plants diminished in number on the main track with a few visible on the mountain sides. However when we neared the top they were everywhere! Huge plants climbing the stunted trees and shrubs were everywhere you looked and this was just from the climbing track. The stems of some of the large plants were several metres long and about 2cm in diameter. Obviously very old plants. It was cool but definitely not cold. The temperature around our camp dropped to 13oC over night and warmed up during the day.






Some different plants of N.macrophylla. There is some minor variation in the pitcher shape and peristome teeth size but they are unmistakeable as the species. We did not spot N.lowii growing at this altitude but there was one N.xtrusmadiensis plant up the top and one of our guides found a seedling of this hybrid along one of the spurs on the mountain. So the pollen of N.lowii does travel. It would seem that the pollen travels by attaching itself to the shrews as they feed on the N.lowii plants lower down.  As can be seen by the photos below, the shrew faeces is also a source of nutrients for N.macrophylla. A lot of pitchers had the scat in them. I also noticed that N.macrophylla does produce a thin film of exudate under the pitcher lid that these shrews obviously feed on. Definitely not the amount that N.lowii produces but enough to make it a food source for the shrews.






The photo below is, I believe, a world first! It is an upper pitcher of N.macrophylla!! We saw only the one pitcher high up in a tree. The description of N.macrophylla states that the rosette pitchers are the lower pitchers and are only produced for a short time.   The other large pitchers, as pictured above, are described as the upper pitchers. A difference that is obvious in the pitcher below is the shape of the pitcher above the hip. Instead of being cylindrical as per the official and latest decriptions it is flared and conical (infundibular)!




                This species is aptly named. Everything about the stature of the plant was large.



                                      The peristome of N.macrophylla from the rear.


                                           And what is on top of Mt.Trusmadi?



                                               Well I was for one that day :) 

What a great mountain to visit. If time permitted you could easily spend a couple of weeks up there!!


After a day of rest it was a leisurely trip to Mesilau on the side of Mt.Kinabalu to see the famous N.rajah garden. We weren't disappointed.


  N.rajah and a size 10 thong :) As you can see by my attire, it is an easy 5 minute walk from the car park.




                             Some interesting observations/comments from the trip. 



              The official description of N.macrophylla starts off, 'As for N.edwardsiana,....' , yet I actually saw very little similarity between the two species! To me they are like 'chalk and cheese' as the old adage goes! The obvious similarity is the raised peristtome ribs but as can be seen, these are much larger in N.edwardsiana. Other than this, in my observation, the only other similarity is the leaf attachment to the stem. In pitcher structure, leaf shape and peristome structure this species seems to have more in common with N.rajah and N.villosa but I will let the photos below do the talking :).


                           N.edwardsiana                                     N.macrophylla


                            N.edwardsiana                                        N.macrophylla


                         N.edwardsiana                                         N.macrophylla


    Below are photos of the 'double' peristome which is a trait N.macrophylla shares with N.villosa and N.rajah.



The differences and similarities between the leaves of (L-R) N.rajah, N.edwardsiana and N.macrophylla.






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