|Interview with the Viking expert of Thailand - Part I |
Viking – Expert Interview
This Thai expert is in the first row of Thai Viking enthusiasts in Thailand . He bravely claimed that he was the one who named this marvellous species as “Viking” . And also named the unique red thorellii from Phang-Nga province as “Tiger”.
I felt honored to have chance talking with this industrious guy who looked younger than normal 40 years guy.
He didn’t mind a tape recorder , but his name must not be disclosed.
Q: How long has the Viking been discovered?
Approx. 15 years . At that moment I traded wild exotic plants such as orchids , tree ferns , herbs ,Nepenthes etc. on the black market in Bangkok , the capital of Thailand.
One day in the early morning of 1992 , a villager who collected wild plants for me showed me a breath taking mystrious Nepenthes . Its pitcher colour was deep crimson red , not only pitcher , but all leaves – even stem was also red , like a phoenix bird. He asked if I was interested.He just found these strange form Pticher plants on the Island somewhere in southern Thailand.
I ordered the first lot immediately.
Then came the second and third order.
All my customers like it for its pitcher shape. They asked me its name . You should know that in that old days , no one was interested in taxonomy or scientific name . My customer wanted only a proper name to call it .
I myself felt its pitcher looked like an ancient boat of the Viking people in films, or Noah ark , or something I could not recall at that moment , but I felt sounded familiar .
So I named this new Nepenthes ‘Viking’ .
Everyone liked the name . And Viking was widespread very soon.
Q: How about the Nepenthes market those days?
Only a small group of Thai people grew Nepenthes .Perhaps ,it’s a kind of useless vine growing easily everywhere in the wild. The shape and colour looked unattractive.So common for us .In southern Thailand , people use their pitchers as bag , put sticky rice in , and steam. Moreover , we believe it’s a kind of plant that is hard to cultivate. So there were only a few Nep. sellers including me. We all sold Thai Nep. together with other wild plants . My sideway shop was the biggest one at that time.Every Nep. enthusiasts knew my shop . I sold more than 30 types of Nepenthes.
Q: Do you mean both local and imported ?
No . I mean local only . At that time imported Neps. were rare and expensive. Some millionaires ordered for their pleasure and social status.
Q: Then how come 30 types ? Do you mean 30 spp. ?
No , in term of taxonomy ,there should be not more than 6 local species of Nepenthes originated in Thailand. But as you know , local people have their own way to classify things , animals , plants , even universe by their local intellectual which may not correlate to the scientific classification . In case of Nepenthes , for example , they classify Nepenthes by distribution or place of origin. Thailand is composed of 75 provinces and one Metropolitan. N. thorellii from Satoon province is thus called “ Mor Satoon” . N. thorellii from Ubol is called “ Mor Ubol” and . N. thorellii from Phang – nga is called “ Mor Phang – nga ”.
Normally , you could find 3 type of Thai Mor on black markets .
Ampullaria , thorellii and mirabilis are most abandant.
Let me show you thai way to classify N. mirabillis , we have mirabilis “Chumphon ” ,
mirabilis “Prachin Buri ”, mirabilis “Ranong ”, mirabilis “Chanthaburi” , mirabilis “Krabi ” , mirabilis “Narathiwat ” , mirabilis “Pattani ” etc.
I then studied the difference of mirabilis from each province by days , till became skillful in identify Nepentheses by place of origin. Some are different. Some are not. Such as mirabillis “Chumphon ” , their pitchers are more reddish than the others , mirabilis “Prachin Buri ” have pink spread on green . mirabilis “Ubol ” have thick peristome etc.
How about thorellii ?
Thorellii are not as diverse as mirabilis. They can simply classified as Thai thorellii , Cambodian thorellii and Laos thorellii . Thai thorellii and Cambodian thorellii look alike but I could notice the difference . Laos thorellii are usually pale in colour with blur dots. Thai thorellii can also classified by place of origin . But most of them are alike. Only from Phang - nga show the specific character of deep red with sharpen edge big purple
dots.This unique character made my idea popped up again. . To make Phang – nga thorellii more distinguishable , I named them Phang – nga lai seo or Phang – nga Tiger pattern, according to their clear cut pattern-like dots. But people like the shorter name ‘Tiger’. And ‘Tiger‘ became favorite till now. I’ve heard that some Thai enthusiasts had selected good quality Tiger and developed to produce new cultivar ‘Red Tiger’ successfully now.
Q: Very informative ,thank you . Now if you don’t mind , let us concentrate on Viking . I ‘ve heard that Vikings can be found on very remote Islands , probably one Island indeed . And there are only 2 Thai families in a small village know this secret .They keep their mouths shut because this secret Island is just like a Treasure Island for their families to earn their livings. Someone believe it’s a myth or a pirate tale?
Ans: Not a myth . It’s true.
Q: So you know where ?
A : Not exactly . I know this Island is in Andaman sea , a part of Phang-Nga province. I’ve also known members of those 2 families for more than 10 years. They told me that the Vikings grow on this Island only . And the area plants grow is only 4-5 Rai (approx. 2 acres). That made me so worry of their extinction.
I always teach them the way to reserve the plants for their children and grandchildren by cultivate on mainland and propagate by cutting.
Q: Did they follow your advice ?
N. thorellii (Thai)
N. thorellii (Cambodia)
||N. thorellii (Laos)