Descending into the lush green Lembang Valley through the Sangria Resort on the Jalan Hortikultura in Lembang just north of Bandung on Java… The late afternoon was oozing mists in the orange sunlight. Shadowy, duskier, darker as we walked down. Then in a little burst of sunlight hanging down over the path: Abutilon pictum, painted Indian mallow. It needed a flash to preserve that gleam of the sun’s last ray.
Flowering maple it is also aptly called – just look at that foliage – though no relation to the Acer. It’s a mallow and thus close to Hibiscus.
In fact, it is not native at all to Indonesia but a true traveller. Also called Chinese lantern, it hails originally from South America. There it was first collected by the Scottish naval surgeon John Gillies (1792-1834) from the Orkney Islands. A sufferer of consumption (TBC) he sailed to the Argentine in 1820 in search of better health, and practiced medicine at Mendoza. A versatile botanist as well, he put together a huge collection of plants, shipped them back home and upon his return after eight or nine years spent the rest of his short life describing his finds.
The Botanical Gardens at Kew, near London, in their Herbarium have an Abutilon pictum of Gillies’s, described in 1833.
Incidentally, the somewhat curious name Abutilon is said to derive from the great Arabo-Persian scholar Avicenna (980-1037 CE), who described the medical use of other mallows.
Judging from all these geographical designations, botany is truly cosmopolitian…

Posted by Rana Pipiens on 2008-09-02 16:21:21

Tagged: , Lembang Valley , Lembang , Bandung , Java , Indonesia , Sangria Resort , Abutilon pictum , Avicenna , Painted Indian Mallow , Flowering Maple , Acer , mallow , Hibiscus , Chinese Lantern , John Gillies , Orkney Islands , Scotland , Mendoza, Argentina , Kew Botanical Gardens , TBC , Argentina , SOE , BlueRibbonWinner , platinumphoto , TheUnforgettablePictures , ABigFave , BEJ , Malvaceae , SearchTheBest , GoldStarAward , Damn! I Wish I’d Taken That!!! , ExquisiteFlowers , The Perfect Photographer , GoldDragon , [email protected]