The Forest With Plants From The Time of Dinosaurs

What would plants that saw the same light of day as dinosaurs look like?

This was the question in my head when my new friend and guide in Dumaguete invited me to Liptong Woodland in Bacong, Negros Oriental. My friend told me that Liptong’s forest is home to prehistoric plant species, Negros province’s native – some endangered – trees, and other rare plants.

I was curious but did not know what to expect. I only have my limited dinosaur encounters like the movie Land Before Time and books like Journey to the Center of the Earth to draw upon. I just thought that in the dinosaur world, everything was big – as in humongously big.

The primitive plants in Liptong Woodland were not really gigantic, but they did not disappoint.

When I saw one kind of cycad plant, locally known as pitogo, I knew at once that it was different even before our forest guide Tatay Ete told us that it was a “dinosaur plant.” It looked like a fern, but it was not a fern. I ran my hands through one of its waxy leaves so thick that it could pass for a book’s hard cover, albeit a bit softer.

My friend/guide Nicky examining the pitogo, a prehistoric plant

I get a closer look at the pitogo.

The difference of most prehistoric plants, Tatay Ete told us, is that their leaves have no veins. I looked at the leaves of the primitive plants we encountered and saw that indeed, this was true.  I somehow remember a science class during elementary school, where our teacher showed us pictures of the two types of veins in leaves – the parallel veins (corn leaves are an example) and the netted veins (many trees have leaves with these branchlike formations).

To see a big leaf with not a single vein just felt weird and fascinating to me. I looked closely at one leaf, but save for some vertical “impressions” made by light and shadow, I could not see one distinct vein.

Look, Ma – no veins! This almaciga leaf is a contrast to the leaves of other plants in this photo.

The almaciga tree, another primitive plant

Aside from primitive plants, Liptong Woodland also has trees, shrubs, and flowers endemic to Negros province, some of which are rare or endangered. Throughout our forest walk, Tatay Ete gamely shared with us the story and the uses of each plant.

One of the Philippines’ rare flowers

The lawaan, a native tree in Negros, acts as an umbrella and slows the speed of rainfall through its leaves that catch big raindrops which then become smaller once they pass through the leaves’ tips.

The lawaan’s leaves do not easily rot and thus also help prevent rainwater from flowing freely through the ground. Tatay Ete says lawaans help prevent floods.

In each turn, Liptong Woodland kept offering curious and interesting plants, many species of which lived a million years ago, albeit after the  dinosaur era. Here are just a few more that caught my eye:

This plant that grows on the bark of trees is locally known as likop-likop. I do not know the identity of the insect, though.

The takip-asin is a tree with huge leaves that also function as umbrellas.

I’ll stop here. Otherwise, I might have to put my entire photo collection of Liptong’s plants in this post!

For those who want to soak in Liptong Woodland’s beauty longer, Tatay Ete said that pitching a tent in the forest is free. Those who prefer more creature comforts, though, can stay at the woodland’s one cottage, which has two rooms that can accommodate two to four people in each room. The entire cottage can be rented for Php1000, while one room is Php 500.

Liptong Woodland’s cottage

The cottage’s two rooms

So if you want to see plants from millions of years ago, weird and one-of-a-kind trees and other plants, as well a get a walking tour and lecture, then Liptong Woodland is just the place.

NOTE: This is the first of two entries about Liptong Woodland. Read the second entry here.

How to get to Liptong Woodland:

From Dumaguete City public market, take a jeep to Valencia for Php 13. Get off at Valencia’s public market then take a tricycle or a habal-habal (motorbike) to Liptong Woodland. Fee for habal-habal is Php35, while it is Php10 per person for the tricycle ride if you are going with a group.  

 How to reserve for an overnight stay:

Call Tatay Ete (Rene Vendiola) at +639193962633.

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11 thoughts on “The Forest With Plants From The Time of Dinosaurs

  1. Pingback: The Man Whose Love Built A Forest | Traveling Light

  2. i think the plant above is a gymnosperm Zamia pumila …. you also have the beautiful Medinilla magnifica (pink flowers), and would you believe that the clinging plant on the bakr is an aroid or of same family of Gabi …

    • Wow! Thanks for the info, Lovemindanao! I got photos of two kinds of pink flowers in Liptong. Yes, I believe one of them is the Medinilla magnifica.

    • Hi, Sony! Sorry for the late reply. Didn’t see this comment immediately. Yes, that plant looks rare – this is my first time seeing it! Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is either. Maybe the Botany department in UP Los Baños would know. Try searching for them in the net if you’re keen on discovering what this flower is. =)

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