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…


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