“With every visit to the hill forests of Malaysia, we are always greeted with the sight of tall tree ferns, Cyathea sp. (above), which are so characteristic of the highlands.
“These primeval ferns can attain impressive heights, easily towering over us. Under a clear, blue sky, the tree fern basks in the warmth of the sun, with feather-like fronds floating with the cool breeze (above).
“But when the grey clouds roll in, the tree fern will have to endure being drenched by the chilly rains and its ‘hair’ being tossed about by the gusty winds, as illustrated in this scenario:
“As the older fronds below begin to droop and turn brown, they are destined to be replaced by younger recruits sprouting from the crown (below).
“These youthful fronds begin their journey as tightly coiled fiddleheads or croziers. As they unravel and reach for the sky, enchanting and intriguing patterns remind us of Nature’s artistry (below).
“However, not every fern frond may attain its maximum life span, as there is always a chance of being consumed by a hungry mouth. In May 2015, we had the privilege of watching a male White-thighed Leaf Monkey (Presbytis siamensis) leisurely munching away at a fiddlehead while seated upon the crown (below).
“Video clips of this monkey enjoying its meal may be previewed here:
“Apparently, the golden hairs that shroud the young fiddlehead proved to be unsuccessful in defending itself from a ravenous and determined monkey. Nevertheless, we were provided with a rare glimpse into the dietary spectrum of this primate species.”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming & Dr. Vilma D’Rozario
2nd December 2015