Giving Spotlight To The Uncommon Plants

5 plants that don't receive enough recognition

By Nur Hani Khalila / 20 April 2022

PlantWhy does nobody want us? Source: Architectural Digest

  • Fan the haters away with Mapu Palm!
  • There’s beauty in darkness 
  • Nervous? It’s just a plant 
  • Don’t judge the queen by its appearance

What comes to mind when you think of plants? It’s probably Phothos or Snake Plant, right? What about the uncommon ones? There are tons of green friends out there that provide the same benefits, but they are often left behind. Just because some of them are big and ugly doesn’t mean they don’t need love! It’s time we finally give the spotlight to the uncommon ones and spread their names around. So, here are 4 rare and uncommon plants that you should know!


1/ Licuala Mattanensis (Mapu Palm)

Plant Pokok.AsiaMapu Palm prefers to be placed in a container rather than in the ground. Source: Pinterest

Licuala Mattanensis receives its name from its place of origin, the Mattang Mountain, Sarawak. It is known for its circular leaves and commonly divided wedge-shaped frond segments identical to a fan. 

Sarawakians usually use the fronds for food wrappers or food containers like Ketupat Daun Palas. They also use it for thatching. Personally, I would love to go to Sarawak and see the wrapping action myself! Licuala Mattanensis, like its other family members, takes some time to grow.

So worry not if you own one of them and still don’t see any progress. This plant will grow up to 3 metres in height, requiring certain conditions such as high humidity, a specific temperature and soil for good growth.

The plant has proliferated into about 145 species, ranging from Bhutan to Australia. There are a few common plants of this species that you can buy, such as Licuala Grandis and Licuala Orbicularis.


2/ Begonia Darthvaderiana

Plant Pokok.AsiaI didn’t know this black plant was from Malaysia! Source: Flickr

Like Mapu Palm, Begonia Darthvaderiana was first discovered in Borneo, Sarawak, in 2014. It was found growing in the deep shade of the rainforest, on the cliffs. However, the plant is extremely rare, making it uncommon and pricey for a houseplant.

That’s understandable. I mean, its appearance would attract anyone from miles away, well, me at least. The dark-coloured leaves, complemented with the deep red flowers and bright yellow and green around them, make for a striking display.

Because of this feature, they can survive with little sunlight. How cool is that? And if you’re a Star Wars fan, the name definitely sounds familiar. That’s because “Darthvaderiana” was taken after the infamous Darth Vader.


3/ Fittonia Albivenis (Nerve Plant)

Plant Pokok.AsiaA plant that looks like the nervous system? Freaky. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Next on the list is Fittonia Albivenis. Nerve Plant is probably the worst name to be given to a plant. It’s not just the name of the plant that keeps me in awe. Its unique foliage with the contrasting vein-like appearance which comes in pink, white or red, is equally awe-inspiring.

Fittonia Albivenis originated from the tropical rainforest in South America, though it was first introduced to the Europeans at the end of the 19th century. Serving as a ground cover plant, they shade bright light, making it versatile enough to survive in damp and dark places. I would definitely buy it and put it in my bathroom! 

With all the different shades of colour I can choose from, it’ll brighten up the area and my mood whenever I take a shower for the day. Plus, it’s pretty easy to care for! They prefer to be kept moist and in suitable lighting conditions. But, you probably have to watch out for cold drafts as the plant does not love dry air and an environment that lacks humidity.


4/ Paphiopedilum Sanderianum (Sande’s Paphiopedilum)

Plant Pokok.AsiaA queen by birth, the petals even look like crowns themselves. Source: Wikimedia Commons

You’re probably a bit scared looking at its appearance, but we must not judge a book by its cover! Did you know that Paphiopedilum Sanderianum is called the “Queen of Paphs?” They call it so because of its striking flower with side petals, and the fact that it grows to almost three feet long.

The orchid made its first appearance in 1885, Borneo, Sarawak. Its huge size and beauty piqued the interest of a man called J. Foerstermann. And just like Cinderella, the orchid “disappeared” and became extinct after the turn of the 20th century. 

But luckily, the orchid was rediscovered by Ivan Nielson in 1978. It was then protected and grown in Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak. Although the orchid has been used to create several hybrids, none of them matched the original’s extraordinary length. Since you are not allowed to purchase or grab the Queen of Paphs from the wild, you will have to make do with the hybrid instead. These phenomenal plants are relatively easy to care for.


Plant discrimination exists too 

After researching these hidden gems, we noticed what makes them extraordinary is their unique appearance. They have their own qualities that make them presentable and eye-catching to plant lovers. 

However, spreading hate to the common ones is unnecessary. Every plant has its benefits, and we from Pokok.Asia welcome all of them! There is more to be discovered, and we are looking forward to showing you more in the future!


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