Cyrtandra baileyi (Gesneriaceae)

Cyrtandra baileyi DSC_1663 (7)

In wet places in the Australian rainforest dwells Cyrtandra baileyi, a delicate relative of the African violet. This shrub which appears to be restricted to permanently wet places in rainforest, is endemic to the region and was first collected by botanist Frederick Manson Bailey.

Cyrtandra baileyi DSC_1663 (5)

Cyrtandra baileyi DSC_0811

At a first glance, one might interpret Cyrtandra to have alternate leaves, but closer inspection would reveal a rather strange feature – at each leaf node, there is pointed appendage opposite each leaf. Cyrtandra actually has opposite leaves, one of which is greatly reduced.

What came to my mind was a rather macabre analogy: Cyrtandra has a leaf with a “vanishing twin” – the phenomenon in animals where a fetus in a multi-gestation pregnancy which dies in utero and is then partially or completely reabsorbed by the twin.

Interestingly, there are other plants that do this, but that is another story for another time.


About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Endemics, Gesneriaceae (African Violet family), Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cyrtandra baileyi (Gesneriaceae)

  1. Pingback: Pilgrimage to an ecological mecca – the Connell plot | David Tng

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