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numpty

Trip to Sabah, Borneo (Neps), part I

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So, I went on a short trip to Sabah, Borneo, and was able to visit a few Nep sites. My camera's nothing special so the photos aren't great, but I since I had to go wading into swamps and thorny thickets to look at a few of these plants, I wanted to post something to justify my efforts!

I'll split this into a couple of posts ... Kinabalu National Park, and elsewhere.

Kinabalu National Park to start off with. I got a ride up to the start of the main summit trail, which meant I missed a stretch of road where I could apparently have seen N. fusca, but no worries ... I saw this one later. But on the trail I did miss N. x harryana (hybrid between edwardsiana and villosa) and an unidentified Utric. I was told where to look for these by a nice gent from the park's botany unit, but I wasn't able to spot them.

The most common Nep. on the mountain is tentaculata. The trail is lousy with them between about 1,900 and 2,400 metres asl. Despite this being the "boring" species that grows on just about every mountain in Sabah, I found it a pretty one, with lots of variation between, and within, lower and upper pitchers.

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At around 2,600m asl, you start to see N. villosa. At this point I took the Mesilau trail, an alternative to the main summit trail. There were large colonies of the species for a few hundred metres on this path. (Unfortunately it was also clear that some careless hikers had snapped a few plants while wandering around in the bushes.)

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At the Mesilau end of the trail, at around 2,000m, there's a restricted area where N. rajah grows. They let tourists in for guided walks for a couple of hours every day. The lower elevation part of the area has been planted with N. burbidgeae and N. fusca, though apparently not entirely successfully. Some of the plants have taken off, but others not. Higher up there are naturally occurring colonies of N. rajah and N. x kinabaluensis (a hybrid between rajah and villosa).

N. burbidgeae first.

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And N. rajah.

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The following one was pointed out as N. x kinabaluensis, but I'm not sure I see that. It looks closer to a rajah to me. (Or possibly kinabaluensis crossed again with a rajah?)

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But what about this one ... what does this look like to those of you who grow these plants?

829Raj_80.jpg

Edited by numpty

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I don't know what that plant is, but those photos are spectacular! You're a lucky man to go have been there!

Edited by TheInactiveMoth

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That last one is pretty amazing. Leaves are the ones with N. clipeata but pitchers are more of N. mira. Never seen anything like that before. Not sure what it is. Spectacular pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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Looks like you had a good trip. There are lovely pictures there in any case.

279Tent_4.jpg

This photo is of interest to me. It depicts a pitcher of tentaculata afflicted by a leaf miner. I'd really like to know what kind of leaf miner (lepidoptera, hymenoptera, didptera?), and whether it is host specific, ie does if only feed on Nepenthes tentaculata?

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Awesome, thanks for sharing. How did you find the trip? I'm planning a trip to Sabah for the end of this year, with Kinabalu being at the top of my list of places to visit.

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Thanks for the comments!

"Deadly Weapon": I guess that's what happens when there are a bunch of different species in close proximity (I actually wonder about the wisdom of planting different species close to a wild colony of N. rajah, but maybe I'm wrong in that, or not privy to all the facts).

James: An interesting question, which unfortuanetly I couldn't hope to answer. A possible dissertation topic in the future, perhaps?

"Xeno": I had an okay time in Sabah, but it was a short trip, which forced me into doing things differently from how I'm used to. More than in Sarawak, the tourism industry in Sabah seems to target upmarket tourists (i.e. not me) with all-inclusive packages. I actually found it difficult to just do independent hikes in national parks some of the time ... trails were closed to independent hikers, or guides had to be taken at sky-high prices. I went to the rafflesia sanctuary near Tambunan and turned back in exasperation when the dude in the office asked for 120 ringgit to let me in and show me to a bloom (guide compulsory). Obviously it would be much cheaper if you had a group to split the cost. The same stuff goes on at Kinabalu NP. All accommodation in the park has been given over to a private company, Sutera Lodges, and up on the summit trail they're charging 5-star prices for dorm accommodation, which is often booked up way in advance. Plus there's the "climbing" permit, guide fee, insurance, etc. I doubt I would have climbed the mountain even if I had that kind of money to spend. Also, public transport in Sabah is a bit sketchy, which doesn't help getting to out-of-the-way locations (you might want to bring your driver's license and hire a car). Having said all that, there's plenty of good stuff. Gunung Kinabalu is a beautiful mountain, and the trek up the main trail as far as Layang Layang and then down to Mesilau is a very nice hike where you can see all the aforementioned Neps, and maybe a couple more. If you're really determined you could plan better than me and make an excursion to Gunung Trusmadi to look for N. lowii, macrophylla and x trusmadiensis (apparently there's a 4WD road up to 1,700m asl now), or go up Gunung Alab to look for N. chaniana. And of course there's great diving/snorkelling, forest reserves, etc, though again, it tends to be channelled towards package trips. I'm sure you'll have a good time, despite my grumpy ramblings!

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" My camera is nothing special so the photos aren't great"..................On the contrary....Your photos are AMAZING!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!! I wish I was there to experience it for myself, but for now your photos are Stunningly Beautiful!! Thanks for sharing....

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Wow!! Speechless! Those pics are indeed awesome! That must have been a fantastic hike through that jungle...

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Thankyou very much for your information, it's good to hear from someone with first hand experience. I'm aiming to get to Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok and Danum Valley, I mainly want to see some of these plants in the wild, they're absolutely spectacular.

Again, thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for posting the (great) photos, and your experience visiting Mt Kinabalu. Too bad to learn that is has become so commercialized. Still, one of my goals is to trek the Mesilau trail once, and see these plants for myself, so it is good to know beforehand how it can be there.

Regards,

Christer

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Thanks again for the comments. Any nice pictures are as a result of the plants themselves, not my wobbly photography!

Christer and Xeno: I can definitely recommend the route that goes from Timpohon Gate (HQ) - Layang Layang - Tambang Gate (Mesilau Nature Resort), with the side-trip to the rajah site at the Mesilau end. Doing it this way round meant I was able to visit the conservation centre at park HQ and speak to a botanist about plant locations before I headed off. (As I mentioned, I didn't find the N. x harryana or the Utric, but then again the notes I took weren't as detailed as they could have been.) A guide also mentioned to me that he'd seen a colony of lowii a few hours walk from Mesilau, near a waterfall, so you might want to ask someone in the know about that.

Xeno: Good luck with the Danum Valley. That should be an amazing area, but it'll probably take an inclusive package to get you there. My suggestion would be to go there before Sepilok, as the Danum Valley is supposed to be great for wildlife while the latter is more of a human zoo with only a single 1km trail available to trekkers, at least when I was there. You might not feel motivated to make the sidetrip to Sepilok if you've already had a fantastic wildlife experience in the Danum area.

If anyone's headed that way and is interested I can give more detailed info via PM.

Cheers!

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Thanks for that, it gives me something to think about.

Again, great thread, thanks for sharing.

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omg ... thanks for the excelent fotos of majestic plants.

The last one could be N. x kinabaluensis (villosa x rajah). The peltate leaves are most certain rajah influence.

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Spectacular pics. I wish to visit these places someday. BTW....In my humble opinion...the last pic is for sure a N. rajah. Seedlings take a long time to reach the huuge size in tthe wild. I have seen pictures of healthy seedlings that have seem to have grown for many years and showing an almost bonsai stature like that. It is dependent on various characteristics such as optimal light conditions, root bound media due to compaction, availibility of water levels etc.

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