The search for Clidemia hirta and Melastoma malabathricum

With the ongoing development of the soccer field, finding Melastoma malabathricum var. marianum proved challenging. Clidemia hirta was easier to find, the trek to find Melastoma malabathricum var. marianum involved traipsing through the swamps of Palikir. I headed down to the present entrance road/construction access road to avoid the cliff that exists along the southeast side of the soccer field. I then doubled back to the west edge of the soccer field, walking north just to the west of the west edge. The day had been rainy and I knew there was soft terrain further to the west from prior explorations. I also knew the west edge would be fairly firm.

Miki Fritz was one of the student's in the lead through the north edge fallen tree field

At the north edge of the soccer field are all of the downed Falcataria moluccana (tuhke karisihn) trees cut to clear the soccer field. These trees trunks and branches are covered by Ischaemum polystachyum (reh padil), This makes for very treacherous footing, especially for those in the lead. One winds up with one's leg falling inbetween hidden trunks and branches in the tall grass.

Lina and Elizabeth emerge from the paddle grass into the forest

I knew that once across the fallen trees, the ground on the other side would be swampy. I asked the class to wait up at the soccer field while I went in to look for and retrieve some plants. No sooner had I clambered over the fallen trees and down into the forest than I turned to see the class dutifully following me into the forest.

In the shade of the forest was Dissotis rotundifolia, the third member of Melastomataceae seen on this wallow through the swampy forest.

The forest floor was more open than it might appear, and many small informal trails wandered hither and thither through the area.

Clidemia hirta was found back to the east from where I entered the forest, I did not see Clidemia hirta towards the west. Not obvious is that at this point the students are standing in a temporary stream running down and alongside the informal track we were on. I do have to remember to warn students not to wear fancy stylish shoes on these outdoor hikes.

Elizabeth, Lina, and Jamie examine the Clidemia hirta

Selfie with Clidemia hirta, Daryll photobombing from behind.

The crew slogs on through the forest: at this point no pisetikimei has been seen. One student who knew pisetikimei had asked whether the Clidemia hirta might be pisetikimei. Until one sees them next to each other, one cannot learn to tell them apart.

Bryan Wichep and Bryan Mwarike push on through an open area of paddle grass. Probably a useful location for hide and seek in physical science, just the challenge of getting into the area without being seen.

Lilina, Kohsak, Lina, Herpelyn, Esmirelda. Bamboo in the background, small rivulets of rivers underfoot. In moving east the class hit an area where streamlets ran over the ground. Pushing ahead meant wet feet and possibly sinking deep into soft muck. I again asked the class to wait while I scouted for a route ahead. I could see a tree with a large Huperzia phlegmaria plant on the trunk, I wanted to get a closer look at the tree and the area around the tree. That meant fording the temporary stream running between the class and the tree. No sooner had I crossed the stream and reached the tree than I found the class my shoulder.

Following Petery into the Cyrtosperma merkusii, giant swamp taro. A sure sign that underfoot will be wet at best, quick mud at worst. The terrain proved wet but firm.

A fern that I have yet to positively identify. Not Microsorum scolopendria.

Franson amid the Cyrtosperma merkusii.

Lina Lawrence, wet, smiling. Elizabeth and Patty behind her.

More images of the fern. Could not find a fertile frond to image.

Back up out of the forest, hoping to find pisetikimei in an area with more sunlight. Daryll, Stephanie, Beverly, Lina, and Lilina.

Daryll would hit pay dirt down in a gully off of the northeast corner of the soccer field: Melastoma malabathricum var. marianum (pisetikimei) in his right hand, Clidemia hirta in his left.

Three emerge from the forest.

Herpelyn brought an umbrella, but the wet was under foot, not overhead.

Dressed for style in the swamp: Beverly Billy, Patty Mario, and Esmirelda Elias clamber up and out.


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