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Codonoboea malayana (Hook.f.) Kiew
by Yao Tze Leong

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Codonoboea malayana (Hook.f.) Kiew

by Yao Tze Leong

Dubbed as the ‘Malayan Cowslip’, Codonoboea malayana is one of the most beautiful native forest dicotyledonous herbs with its large nodding yellow flowers. It was first described and illustrated in the late 19th century (Hooker, 1896), supplemented by a gorgeous watercolour plate published in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Hooker, 1897). It made its debut in an exhibition at the meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society, London on 14 July 1896 where it received a First-class Certificate.

Codonoboea malayana is a small terrestrial herbaceous species that grows up to 30 cm tall. The leaves are oppositely arranged and the alternate pairs are at the right angle to each other. The upper surface of the leaves is rich green, covered by a layer of silky white hairs, which gives it a silvery lustre when the leaf surface is dry.

One can hardly overlook this species when it is in flower. It flowers gregariously and the large nodding flowers measure to 5 cm long. The trumpet-shaped corolla is light beige-yellow towards the base and the bright yellow corolla lobes are more or less equal in size. The two fertile anthers are held together and positioned close to the corolla mouth. Codonoboea is the largest genus of dicotyledonous herbs in Peninsular Malaysia (Kiew & Lim, 2011), yet the yellow flower of C. malayana makes it unique. Most Codonoboea species have white, blue or purple, and rarely red flowers.

Codonoboea malayana grows in the hills and mountains. It is an endemic to Peninsular Malaysia.

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