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Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Herbal Hunting In Malaysia
Arisaema Filiforme can be found in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia and Mt. Gede, Indonesia. Don't you think it looks like a devil emerge from a pentagram? Just joking... It is certainly too precious to be used as herbs for sure.
Malaysia is a blessed country and due to her geographical
situation and tropical climate; there are around 200 tree types, 15000 types of
flowering plants and amongst them; about 2000 of the plants have medicinal
properties. However, only 1000 types of medicinal plants have documentation and
the common ones in use are around 20 types only.
Basically there are two types of landscapes in Malaysia: the
lowland and highland. Due to variations in temperature and humidity; plants in
both types of landscapes will be different. All in all, both of the landscapes
are gigantic storehouse of medicinal plants.
On highland such as Cameron highlands that is situated on the
Titiwangsa mountain ranges, climate is cooler with moister soils and hence plants
flourish and healthier. Herbs such as Glabrous Sarcandra (九节茶) and pitcher plants ( 猪笼草) can only be found on highland areas. On the
other hand, lowlands are normally warmer with tall trees of various varieties.
Even though it is an exciting thing to go into a jungle to
search for rare herbs, I have to confess that I am a little scared looking at
the thick, dense and yet borderless maiden jungle. The reason is because the
jungle houses huge trees that block away majority of the sunlight and the damp
ground is covered with dead and rotten foliages. This type of environment can make
a person tired easily.
There are also many silhouettes of unknown thick and twisted
vines criss-crossing as if gigantic pythons that give the creeps to anyone who
venture into the jungle. There are of course many wild, venomous animals and
insects that may be harmful to the thrill seekers who decide to venture into
this piece of forbidden land.
Old timers say that the jungle is guarded by mountain gods
and many more wild spirits so there are many taboos to follow. For example, one
must burn some coconut husks with tobacco as offering to the spirits before
entering the jungle. It is also forbidden to plug any bright and beautiful
flowers without an offering of food in return. People believe the flowers are
guarded by spirits and if they are not pacified, the person who plucked the
plant may not find his or her way out of the jungle.
Modern folks would scorn at such belief as superstitious,
but let me remind you: Aren’t we all read about people lost in jungle during
their jungle tracking? This is particularly true during school holidays, not
less of the case is fatal too…