A Secret Forest in Gunung Rapat

By Vivien Lian

Gunung Rapat is a familiar place to most locals, where people get their Heong Peng cravings fixed, refill supplies from the wet market and get their repairs done in the shops. It is a one-stop place offering the most solutions to everyday needs.

However, the ‘Gunung’ part which stands for ‘mountain’ has been neglected and this is the most fascinating part as within this hill is a secret.

A Secret Forest

It is the Gunung Rapat Secret Forest, home to unusual plants. The one my friend was holding is called Trevesia Palmata, also commonly known as Snowflake Tree. It is commonly found in southern China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam but so far after thorough research on Google, there is no information about Snowflake tree being found in Malaysia although it is reasonable to find one in Malaysia given the tropical climate. This tree grows in forests on mountain slopes. According to the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, the young flowering buds are eaten raw once daily by the Dimasa tribe in North Cachar Hills of Assam, a northeastern state of India. The tribe collects wild edible flowers which are regularly eaten with rice. Also, the root of the plant is made into a paste to apply on bruises. According to a study by the University of Development Alternative in Bangladesh, the leaves are beneficial in lowering blood sugar and alleviating pain. More studies from different parts of the world say that the snowflake tree is used as a postpartum herbal bath recipe by the Mien (Yao) community of Thailand; in Arunachal Pradesh of India, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable; the Kry ethnic group in Laos use decoction of roasted stems and roots for postpartum recovery, peritoneal healing, retraction of the uterus, abdominal pain; the Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, India use fruits of the plant as fish poison to stupefy the fish resulting in an easy catc

Monophyllaea horsfieldii R.Br., from Greek, mono=one, phyllon=leaf, meaning one leaf, grows predominantly on limestone rocks, in shady forests, at cave entrances and below rocks in tropical and subtropical rainforests of Southeast Asia (e.g., Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo). In Indonesia, juice from the leaves and stem is splashed on babies to promote health and fitness.

A passage in the tunnel filled with ankle-length water where you can see catfish swimming around.

Going into the whole new world

Silk thread hanging from the cave ceiling is spun by the larva of fungus gnat, similar looking to mosquito but bigger. It feeds on fungi growing on soil, helping in the decomposition of organic matter.

Amblypygi (means blunt tail), also known as whip spider is a common habitant in caves. It possesses no silk glands or venomous fangs. It does not build webs and rarely bites if threatened, but can grab fingers with its pedipalps, resulting in thorn-like puncture injuries. It preys on crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, small lizards and hummingbirds but is preyed on by bats and large lizards.

The shell of Garlic Snail is pale yellow-brown and glossy whereas the snail itself is dark blue-grey. When disturbed, it produces a secretion that smells strongly of garlic.

Sadly part of Gunung Rapat was blasted for limestone exploitation, which is unnecessary as mentioned in my previous write up “Have You Been To Gua Air In Simpang Pulai?”, issue 306, June 16-30.

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