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Red as can be. Erythrina variegata at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | by Rana Pipiens
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Red as can be. Erythrina variegata at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Taman Tasik Titiwangsa is a spacious park not far from the end of the Kuala Lumpuran monorail station itself called Titiwangsa. Go there and make it across a couple of major traffic veins alive, you will come to a wide open copiously planted Green and the lake itself. It's a quiet and pleasant retreat wondrously close to the vibrations of KLCC life. Behind this beautiful crimson red Erythrina you can see the gently lapping lake. It's named Titiwangsa after the the 'spinal' mountain range from north to south of the Malaysian Peninsula.

Erythrina - Latinised 'red' for the original Greek - was named, of course, by Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), that veritable champion of modern botany. He culled his information about Erythrina variegata from the materials collected by two 'servants' of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). They were Georg Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702), a factor of the VOC on the Indonesian island of Ambon who was also an ardent naturalist. The other was Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Draakenstein (1636-1691), among many other things VOC governor of Cochin on the Malabar coast of India; he also was a collector and describer of naturalia. Both men also pressed the local populations for information on things they collected, often of a medicinal or pharmaceutical sort.

As a frog - Rana Pipiens, after all - I was pained to learn that at the end of the nineteenth century (1886) cruel experiments were done on a great-granduncle of mine. It was determined that sap extracted from the leaves or bark of Erythrina affected the central nervous system, virtually closing it down. The experimenters did, however, conclude, that about 35 minutes after that effect was brought about, the heart again began to function normally. Still, cruel, I think!

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Taken on June 3, 2009