|The Sepik River winds its way for |
700 miles through
northwestern Papua New Guinea.
Our first stop was at Vanimo, near the border with the Indonesian half of the island, called Irian Jaya. The island of New Guinea was divided into three parts by colonial European powers. The western half was occupied by the Dutch, and it eventually became part of Indonesia. The northeast was occupied by Germany, who lost it to the Australians after the World War I. The southeast, known as Papua, was colonized by the British and later administered by the Australians. The two eastern sections were united into the independent nation of Papua New Guinea in 1975.
The highlight of the Vanimo area was an extensive natural population of Pigafetta, a relative of sago palms and vining rattans, a group characterized by scaly fruits. Our wanderings also led us to Wutung Village and the border with Indonesia.
|The trunks of Pigafetta filaris are remarkably|
|The large inflorescence of Pigafetta contains hundreds of|
flowers developing into scaly fruits.
|A native of Wutung shows off his hand-made|
|Your botany professor, impossibly young and|
thin, at the marker of the border between
Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
|Turnera subulata, a native of central America, is cultivated|
|Wild bird's nest fern (genus Asplenium) grows wild in|
forests throughout New Guinea.
|Orania glauca in forest near the village of Amanab.|
|Our local guide is dwarfed by the|
inflorescence of Orania glauca. Note
the whitish cast resulting from the waxy
|The fruits of Orania are unusual among palms, in that up to|
three one-seeded sections may form from a single flower.
|Hydriastele valida was another new|
species that we found. This specimen
is growing near the village of Lumi.
|This Rhopaloblaste species is similar to R. ceramica, otherwise known from the island of Ceram in Indonesia, |
and differs from other New Guinea species by the pendulous (loosely hanging) leaflets of the fronds.
|The bright red fruits of|
Rhopaloblaste cf. ceramica.
|The branches of the Rhopaloblaste inflorescence|
are tightly packed in bud, resembling a brain.
|A lone specimen of an unidentified Livistona|