My father has been a plant collector for as long as I remember. Talk to him about plants and he will say something like, “when you become a plant fanatic or a collector, the ultimate species you’ll end up collecting is cycads, after those, palms.” It makes sense since cycads have been around since Dinosaur age and they have survived till today. To me, there’s something very heroic about that.
I didn’t get into the whole nature thing till 15 years ago. Maybe I was subconsciously rebelling having been surrounded by it since birth. With By Moumi, every collection is like a diary, there has to be elements of truth and reality as well as fantasy mixed in – our brand is built on that starting with how it is inspired by my own cats, Moumi, Myogi, and Kikilala. I always reference things in my life such as llamas, miniature horses, albino deer from our farm; and now my dad’s garden in the house I grew up in.
Even though he has some of the rarest species of plants known to earth, he has kept them in low-key settings, planting them as naturally as he can. They’re not displayed as trophies and not even I know how precious some of these are until we launched our “Here Sometimes” campaign photos and people were talking about them. So here are some of the plants featured in the shoot that I’d like to share with you.
Name: The Kwango Giant Cycad (Encephalartos Laurentianus)
This is one of the planet’s largest cycad and is extremely rare. And yes, this is the one that was there from the beginning as fossils would suggest. The Encephalartos is the fastest growing species of cycads, and they get so large that sometimes they tilt sideways and give in to gravity. The one pictured here isn’t the largest it can be yet, potentials!
Name: Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Deglupta)
Origin: Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
I personally purchased the seeds of the Rainbow Eucalyptus at my dad’s request 10 years ago from Spain. Like almost every plant in our house, my dad grew them from seeds. According to him, it holds no value in the horticulture world, but it’s my favourite because it’s so colourful. Famed for its natural vivid bark peels, the colours change daily. The older it gets, the more vivid it becomes. This particular tree is still a teenager, but already the height has surpassed everything else we have.
Name: Aneityum Palm (Carpoxylon Macrospermum)
Origin: Vanuatu Islands
I love the fact that, intentionally or not, the two Aneityum palms that sandwich the Rainbow Eucalyptus turn into such a great composition and a contrasting combination in many ways. It is said to be one of the “holy grail” palms for palm addicts for its ornamental value.
Name: Licuala Peltata Roxb.
Origin: Thailand, Malaysia
This one originated here in Southern Thailand where I came from. It’s still a rare one as this palm never took off. The leaves are amongst the largest leafed palms, so gigantic undivided and can be over 2 metres across! I love it so much I cut and used them in one of our campaign shoots a few years ago and came back to take pictures with it again.
Name: Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria)
Origin: Unsure, maybe Chile or New Caledonia
Well this one puzzles us! Dad said he bought the seeds off the internet under “Monkey Tail Tree”. We know that it’s a coniferous tree of the Araucaria genus. Having looked at all types and varieties on the internet, we couldn’t find one that looks identical to ours. He suspects the tree has adapted to the Thai weather and mutated a little. Almost all Monkey Puzzle Trees are now endangered. So having this is special anyhow.
Name: King Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
Origin: Southern Japan
This is my father’s prized possession. Although a cycad, it was mistakenly named palm. Extremely rare already as a species, but try googling for this exact variety and you will fail. This King Sago Palm isn’t just gold-tipped as commonly found, it’s more golden. It’s one of very few plants my dad has bought as a grown tree. This is not a plant you’d want in the house with adventurous pets as all parts are extremely poisonous!
Name: Ebony Tree (Diospyros Ebenum)
Origin: Sri Lanka/India
One of the most expensive types of wood you will find - it’s very strong, very heavy, unlike other wood, Ebony wood does sink in the water. Due to the high value of black wood, many species are now extinct; with ones remaining being endangered. These two are the only trees that hold any sentimental value to my father. They were the trees grown naturally at our old horse farm when I was young, he had them dug up and transported to this house so they can continue to grow and be a part of our lives today.
Photos by: Pedro Medeiro