The following posts examine in detail various flora and fauna unique to the region of Southeast Asia. Each article covers a plant or animal that is a part of the area’s cultural heritage or otherwise important to the region. The posts cover the Komodo dragon, the lacewing butterfly, the corpse flower, and the orchid.
The Komodo Dragons are the heaviest lizards that can weigh up to 200 lbs. It has an average length of about 8ft., but some lizards are known to grow as long as 10ft. The Komodo Dragons have a keen sense of small that can smell carrion up to 5 miles away with the aid of the wind. Despite their size, Komodo Dragons are very agile and are able to climb trees as well as their ability to swim. The dragons have 60 teeth inside of their mouths. Inside their mouths, very numerous bacteria are able to be found there. They are known to be carnivorous and very cannibalistic. They can kill very large animals such as an adult water buffalo. An average Komodo Dragon can live anywhere between 20 and 40 years. Komodo Dragons can be found on the Lesser Sunda Islands of Rinca, Komodo, Flores, and the smaller islands of Gili, Mongtang, and Padar. Because of their close proximity to the Ring of Fire, frequent volcanic activities threaten the Komodo Dragons. They are current endangered and only 3,000-5,000 Komodo Dragons are left in the world.
The Rafflesia arnoldii, commonly known as the ‘Corpse flower’ is the largest flower in the world, reaching a blossom size of one meter. It is also symbol of the rainforests in Southeast Asia, specifically those in Sumatra and Borneo as well as being featured on Indonesian postage stamps. Being a parasite, the corpse flower can be found on a member of the Tetrastigma family and has no roots or leaves. The corpse flower gives off a stench that, although unattractive to humans, appeals to carrion flies that pollinate it. The buds of the flower are used in medicine to promote delivery and recovery during childbirth. It is a common tourist attraction, and because of human traffic and ecotourism, the number of plants grown every year is rapidly decreasing.
The Malaysian Lacewing
There are a lot of unique animals in Southeast Asia. One of these animals is the Malaysian Lacewing butterfly. The lacewing butterfly is found in Malaysia and Singapore. It is the commonest species of the genus Cethosia. Its scientific name is Cethosia hypsea hypsina, and is part of a genus butterflies that are noted for their beauty. The lacewing is very popular among photographers due to its colorful wings. This species of butterfly lives in forests.
Orchids have a long history in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand. Although they were cultivated even before European involvement, they were first seriously studied by J. G. Konig, a Dane who visited Thailand in the late 1770s. Other scientists, including E. J. Schmidt, A. F. G. Kerr, Gunnar Seidenfaden, and Dr. Tem Smitinand, have also collected and examined the orchids common in Southeast Asia. However, orchids today are most important not as the object of scientific study, but as a commercial enterprise: Thailand grows more than 1,000 varieties. Orchids are popular as decorative flowers due to their evolution of exotic colors and shapes to attract pollinators; some even imitate nectar-bearing flowers in an effort to persuade bees to raid them. Today orchids are a popular houseplant and bring exotic color to many homes in America and worldwide.
“Corpse Flower” by L. Dunnagan, “Komodo Dragons” by K. Yoo, “Lacewing Butterfly” by M. McKay, “Orchids” by A. May
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“Rafflesia Arnoldii (Corpse Flower).” Plants & Fungi: Rafflesia Arnoldii (corpse Flower). Kew: Royal Botanical Gardens. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Rafflesia-arnoldii.htm.
“Komodo Dragon.” Honolulu Zoo Home Page. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
“The Malay Lacewing (Cethosia Hypsea Hypsina).” Butterflies of Singapore. Web. 1 Dec 2007. 4/24/2012.
admin. “Colorful Orchids Wallpaper.” Photograph. Flower Wallpaper. Flower Wallpaper, 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wallpaper-flower.com/colorful-orchids-wallpaper/>.
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“EverBloom Orchids Red Dendrobium.” Photograph. EverBloom Orchids. EverBloom Orchids, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://everbloomorchids.com/index.html>.
Orchid Run. “A Brief History of Orchid Study in Thailand.” Orchid Run. Orchid Run, 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://www.orchidrun.net/index.php?lay=show&ac=article&Id=538764666>.
Pollan, Michael. “Orchids.” National Geographic September 2009: [page unknown]. National Geographic. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. < http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/09/orchids/pollan-text/1>.