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Oct 1, 2011 11:19 AM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
[email protected] Is a wonderful report on Nathalie's adventures in PNG, collecting hoyas while she travels around the remotest areas doing research on the deaf populations. Imagine....a 6' tall beautiful blond woman, deaf, speaking only thru sign language, travelling through a country known for it's brutal way of life. I admire the heck out of her!!!!! Thumbs up
Leap. The net will appear.
Oct 1, 2011 11:20 AM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!
Thumbs up but your link doesn't go anywhere...
[Last edited Oct 1, 2011 6:20 AM CST]
Quote | Post #767049 (2)
Oct 1, 2011 11:32 AM CST
Name: Dominic Murray
Lanzarote, Canary Islands

I agree Carol. What guts and WHAT a way to spend your time on earth. I admire what she's doing immensely
Oct 1, 2011 12:21 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices. ? Confused
Leap. The net will appear.
Oct 1, 2011 12:32 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Seems to be down....sorry.
Leap. The net will appear.
Oct 2, 2011 2:14 AM CST
Name: Christina Karlsson
Here's the link you want:
Oct 2, 2011 4:18 AM CST
Name: Julie Kennedy

I've tried uploading the latest newsletter that Nathalie has sent about her adventures. I have all the text, but not the amazing photos. There are too many to upload individually. I'd be here til Xmas!
It still makes very interesting reading.

September 2011 .

View of little village near Kiunga in the middle of jungle seen from the small cliff..

Hi Julie!

Time sure goes fast while working here in Papua New Guinea! Already almost October? It feels like just weeks ago when I visited Dahamo, a very lovely but also very remote village in the jungles of central New Guinea.

Want to know about the sweaty, scary, exhausting but also very rewarding trip along the serpentine river to northwestern Western Province for more than 150 kilometres (100 miles), where crocodiles are resting at the river banks waiting for preys to pass by. Is that me the crocodiles are waiting for? The mosquitoes and leeches defintely did wait for me.

March 3rd I left my house in chilly cloudy Ukarumpa at 05.30 AM. The fog was dense at the airstrip, so we had to wait until the morning sun warmed the fog away. Finally the 5-seated Cessna plane could take off.

The small aircraft glided just over the amazing nature of Papua New Guinea. 3000 metres tall mountains (10,000 ft) coverd by primary forests, younger secondary forests or steep gardens.

It was a magnificent view to see the soaring mountains end abruptly into a flat wide plain totally covered by lush green jungle without being able to see a single house, not even a tiny hut. Many rivers crossed the green canopy and quite a few hornbills flew just below the aircraft.

Exactly where the mountains ended abruptly, lies this tiny village, in northwestern corner of Western Province.

But we did not land there. We kept flying to the small town of Kiunga, 20 minutes further away by air. But it would take us three days to get to Dahamo. You could only see jungles, jungles and jungles almost all the way to Kiunga.

Those unexplored forests may soon be passed to history, as this area is approved for logging.

Western Province is one of the biggest provinces with very low population density. The villages are very far apart and often just a couple of hundred people in each village. The jungle between the villages are virtually unexplored and often even untouched.

Encouraging visit to Kiunga's deaf school

The deaf teacher Sapa Ura (white shirt) and a friend wanted to try the Swedish finger alphabet

We were met in Kiunga by David, a friend's friend. He knew about a deaf school in Kiunga and invited us over. I felt I had to go and see them. It turned out to be a elementary school for deaf children run by Callan Services*, a Catholic organization working with people with disabilities, thus involving deaf.
(* Callan Services also runs the three deaf schools in towns of Goroka, Alotau and Madang that I visited in 2008 and some others that I haven't visited yet.)

There are three teachers for deaf children, of whom one was deaf himself, Sapa Ura. They were passinate about their work and they immediately brought up the topic that deaf PNG children get a sign language too late in life, if any language at all. I asked them how we could help them in this, and it sparked a long discussion lasting for many hours.

They got very excited when I told about my thoughts on a sign language bok for self learning both for deaf children, their parents and families in all of PNG. And that the book would be adapted to PNG's culture and way of thinking (it is different from rest of the world).

They said this is what they needed, and had a lot of input and ideas what those in Kiunga would like to be added in the book. I also noted the dialectal sign language differences, but in overall it was the same sign language as observed in other towns.

I also visited the deaf students, they were few. Almost all deaf children stay at home. Parents don't want to send them, despite Kiunga's Callan Services pays for the school fee. They said that parents either are ashamed of their children, or don't believe in their abilities. I also noticed that many people in Kiunga were unaware about the deaf school. So I hope the information about the existence of the school will reach to those in need of it.

I left Kiunga a few days later, much inspired and happy by the lovely deaf teachers at the school.

Heading for the village by river

Early Tuesday morning I seated down in a 10 metres long (30 ft) dug out tree trunk, which was no more than half a meter wide (2 ft).

I had to keep my balance!

For two days…

As we drove upstreams along a very serpentine river cutting through the jungle. We went yet to the left, yet to the right. It was 87 km by ground but more than 150 kms by river.

What an experience! Sit in a tree trunk from sunrise to sunset, see two hungry crocodiles waiting for a prey, a really fat snake hanging from a tree branch just next to me as I passed by. Big amazing birds, jungle kilometre by kilometre. My eyes were really sore after screening billions of leaves to find Hoyas. The back was sore too, but I can sacrifice more to save the Hoyas and deaf children.

I spotted mostly Eriostemmas, but also some that looks like Hoya hellwigiana (seen in many provinces), like Hoya leucantha (first time for me to see it in the forest, it looks like a twining Hoya bella) and a short leaved Hoya globulifera, and also Dischidia ovata (I rarely see this one in PNG, so it was nice to see it) and the common weedy Dischidia benghalensis (it grows everywhere in tropical Southeast Asia, where it is sunny and hot, even in cities).

Along the way we stayed at a "guest house". It turned out that the owner is deaf, Charlie! He had an own style of signing, mixed by the signs he had learned in Kiunga and the signs his parents had made up. We had a lovely time around the cooking fire, learning about his life and his language. A lovely surprise!

Me and Charlie trying to find a way to communicate using our very different sign languages

Next morning he showed me around in his village and some of the many cassowaries in cages.

Second night we slept in a bush house (see photo at right). The floor was in very poor condition and full of holes. I was really worried about walking 6-7 metres (18-21 ft) up in the air on such a bad floor, because I am much heavier than the tiny village peple. But the floor endured my weight and during the night we were almost 20 people in the tiny house! They offered cassowary meat for evening meal.

Yummy, like a big chicken - or so I thought!

But hey - the meat of the cassowary bird meat is like pig meat! It has a thick layer of fat, then a meat layer that both looks and tastes like pork, and a third layer that resembled to beef. No way similar to whitish chicken meat.

On the third day the river level had dropped a bit, so we couldn't go further by canoe. We had to hike for about 10 kms (7 miles) through the swamp, on balancing slippery tree trunks, crossing river and streams. Deep on the dark jungle we found a Hoya that easily differs from any of the known Hoyas to occur in New Guinea. It bears 10-15 cm long peduncles and bears fuzzy leaves. I can't wait to see the flowers!

Both Hoyas and Sign Language

Our accommodation in our destination village

In the afternoon we had arrived. We were offered mackerel in tomato sauce on bread. That was luxury food to me after 3 days of water, crackers and boiled rice.

One boy produly shows the forest catch of the day

I had the honour to meet the village's only deaf girl, Betty. She is somewhere around 15-17 years old. She is fully integrated in the village, participating and have many friends who communicates with her. They even invtented a distinct local sign language with a number of signs.

She is shy but very lovely and good forest guide and path finder. So I asked her to be my guide, and she was excited and asked her mother to come along too.

In the forest she was very skilled in finding hoyas. I believe we deaf use our sight more to replace our ears, and she confirmed that belief.

I could both survey hoya and observe Betty's sign language with her mother and her friends who accompanied us. I learned many signs for different things we saw in the forest, in the gardens or in the houses. It seems like a sign lanugage enoguh for her daily needs or communication, but not enough for all topics.

It was fascinating to see a sign language that had developed in total isolation!

The people here find me very fascinating. Deaf scientist. I showed a short video of a deaf Swedish mother with a deaf child to some girls and Betty. They were amazed by the full sign language used in Sweden, and a deaf mother with a deaf child, to see that they were just like any other family. No different. Soon the news spread, and next day the school's teacher and a lot of villagers asked to see the movie too. They said it was so fascinating and the teacher kept asking many questions about deafness and sign language. It was huge to them to see that deaf people were just like any other people in Sweden, that they were no different - just a different language.

Some of the people who wanted to see the movie. Betty is in the middle of the photo wth grey-white / green shirt.

One tiny place in Western Province - rich biodiversity

The eagle eyed Betty accompanied me and surveyed more than 300 individuals of Hoya. We collected living cuttings of about half of them that later were planted in Lae during March 24-27th.

Only in this village we found no less than 15 species of Hoya and 4 species of Dischidia.

15 species is about one fourth of PNG's known 60-70 species of Hoya. Quite a biodiversity in a single village!

The more amazing news is that of those 15 almost half of them are potential new species. (See list at right column.)

First I have to survey the other provinces to make sure they are just not geographical variations of species that are already published.

That is what I will be doing for the next few years, to reveal how many Hoya species are out here in amazing Papua New Guinea!

I was picked up by the small aircraft and headed back to Ukarumpa, and drove down to Lae to plant all the 150 cuttings of about 15 speces. Let's cross our fingers all species will bloom soon and reveal their beautiful flowers and identities!


Hoya sp. aff. epedunculata NS11-115

Some information for you who have been affected by the "Hoya addiction" and want to know more about the Hoyas found in this village:

Hoya oxycoccoides
It is barely just bigger than the world's smallest leaved Hoya (Hoya microphylla), which it actually resembles. But the leaves are usually round and 1-1,5 cm in cross section. The white flowers are 2 cm wide with pale pinkish hue by the sun intensity and dark pink corona.

It was first found in Indonesian half of New Guinea for more than 100 years ago and has not been collected again.

Up until now? See the two photos of the beauty Hoya sp. NS11-132 (below and up at the right column). It was growing in the middle height of the mossy trunk of a tree that had fallen. Only two specimens was sighted despite more than 20 kms (10 miles') hike in the jungles.

Hoya sp. aff. oxycoccoides NS11-132

Those had no flowers - so I am excited to see what their flowers will reveal:

Hoya stenophylla
A very narrowly leaved hoya, confusingly similar to Hoya acicularis from Borneo but bearing campanualte centimetre wide flowers rather than Hoya acicularis' tiny revolute flowers.

I found many plants, all of them high up in the trees on fallen old trees at 150 - 200 metres elevation, that could be H. stenophylla. But it is only known from the other side of the 3000 metres high mountain range. Is it same species with a much wider distribution area than expected? Or a distinct species with very similar vegetative appearance but different flowers, just like Hoya acicularis?

Hoya sp. aff. stenophylla NS11-127

Hoya megalaster and Hoya patella
Those two species have been collected only rarely, both on the other side of the mountain range. They have very typical leaves that aren't easily confused with other species. Both are very big flowered beautiful species.

Here there were many plants with exactly the same leaves and habit and similar slim peduncles but no flowers. All of them were on fallen huge old trees at 150 - 300 metres elevation.

Hoya leucantha
It was, just like Hoya oxycoccoides, found for the first time in Indonesian part of New Guinea and hasn't been recollcted ever since. It looks like a thin slender climbing Hoya bella.

Here a Hoya with same vegetative appearance exists both up in the tree crowns and down in the deep dark ground level. Is it Hoya leucantha?

Yes, those are many exciting Hoyas that have been planted in Lae. Let's cross our fingers that they all flowers soon!


3 March: Flew to Kiunga.

4-7 March: Visited deaf school and met both teachers and students.

8-10 March: Sat in a dug out tree trunk as a canoe, through the dense jungle in two days. The third day I hiked more than 10 kilometres through the swamp to my destination: Northwestern Western Province.

11-22 March: Surveyed northwestern Western Province. Found more than 15 species of Hoya. At least 6 are potential new species.

24-27 March: Planted more than 140 cuttings of Hoya in the lowland garden at Foreting's home in Lae.

2-9 April: Meeting with Dr. Ed de Vogel, a Dutch orchid senior taxonomist, who has surveyed PNG orchids for 10 years. Planned the coming field expedition.

18-25 April: Flew to Yawan with Dr. Ed de Vogel. A small montane village at 1700 metres altitude (5000 ft) northeast off Lae in Morobe Province. There he surveyed orchids and I surveyed Hoyas. Only two species here, Hoya cf. subglabra and a likely new species.

26 April: Went straight away to the highland garden in Ukarumpa to plant the findings from Yawan.


Botanical status for 2011 so far

Dischidia: 4 species
Hoya: at least 21 species

Species in this village

Dischidia benghalensis
Dischidia hirsuta
Dischidia ovata
Dischidia sp.

Hoya sp. aff. globulifera
Hoya sp. aff. hellwigiana
Hoya sp. aff. leucantha
Hoya sp. aff. megalaster
Hoya sp. aff. oxycoccoides
Hoya sp. aff. patella
Hoya sp. aff. stenophylla
Hoya sp. (section Eriostemma)
Hoya sp. (from the cliff)

and 6 potentially new species of Hoya

Hoya sp. NS11-087

Hoya sp. aff. oxycoccoides NS11-132

The 6-7 metres tall bush house had a scarying weak floor. I didn't fall throgh. This time...


Nathalie E. Simonsson

c/o Ivarsson
Ingelsgård Baden 167
692 97 PÃ¥lsboda

Mobile in Sweden
+46 73 726 3288

New post box:
PO Box 1 - 524
Ukarumpa, EHP 444
Papua New Guinea

Mobile in PNG
+675 73 9194 73

Oct 2, 2011 8:49 AM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!

how do we sign up for that newsletter?

You can forward it to me at:

[email protected]
Oct 2, 2011 10:24 AM CST
Name: Christina Karlsson
I think you should just fill in your name here:

(I did that in the Swedish page, but haven't received any confirmation e-mail nor news letter yet. Tried the English page today and got the confirmation e-mail, so I guess that works!)
[Last edited Oct 2, 2011 5:25 AM CST]
Quote | Post #767604 (9)
Oct 2, 2011 11:03 AM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!

Thank you Big Grin
Oct 2, 2011 11:07 AM CST
Name: Julie Kennedy
threegardeners wrote:wow!

how do we sign up for that newsletter?

You can forward it to me at:

[email protected]

Have sent it on to you Lee Anne Smiling
Oct 2, 2011 11:08 AM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!
Hurray! Hurray! Lovey dubby
Oct 2, 2011 8:06 PM CST
Wow...a simply amazing woman. I just can't imagine the grueling ordeal of traveling like she has, and the tremendous potential of possibly discovering some new hoyas. She gets my vote for "Woman of the Year"...or "Person of the Year". Kudos to her!! Fondly, Patrick
Oct 3, 2011 12:46 AM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Yes...I cannot imagine. When David Liddle and Ted Green went to PNG about 5 or 6 years ago, they had to hire 4 body guards.... When husband Bob sailed there about 20 years ago rape was the national sport and beheadings were common. To have the sweet light to rise above it all and be a carrier of goodness...that takes guts!!! And a great deal of love and bravery. I tip my hat to you. Hurray! Hurray!
Leap. The net will appear.
Oct 3, 2011 12:48 AM CST
Name: Christina Karlsson
She did receive a prize called "Femme de Terre" on February 14 this year. The article is in Swedish, but I'm sure Google translater can do a good job:
[Last edited Oct 2, 2011 11:27 PM CST]
Quote | Post #767916 (15)
Oct 3, 2011 12:49 AM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Lovey dubby ...a price or a prize?... will read the article. Big Grin
Leap. The net will appear.
Oct 3, 2011 12:50 AM CST
Name: Julie Kennedy
Hurray! I agree Hurray!

(I hope you're reading this too, Nathalie Big Grin x )

Can I encourage everyone to click on Christinas link, and sign up for the Newsletter?
Moral support is great for the soul
[Last edited Oct 2, 2011 9:19 PM CST]
Quote | Post #767919 (17)
Oct 3, 2011 9:16 AM CST
Name: Marcy
S. Calif
I agree totally with everything said about this wonderful and courageous woman. Restores one's faith in the good of mankind. I also signed up for the newsletter, but have not received one yet. How did you get one so fast, Julie? Anyway...if you could send that to me via email so I could see the pics also, I would so appreciate that. My email addy is: [email protected].
I'm also going to to read the article about her award as soon as I figure out how to get it translated.
Say...also....has anyone tried using that epiweb stuff on your own hoyas to root them? Wonder if that would be worth trying?
Oct 3, 2011 9:47 AM CST
Name: Julie Kennedy
Marcy - I'm sending the Newsletter to you by email. I get it because I signed up ages ago Smiling

As for Epiweb - having a look in the growing conditions section. I tried it on a couple of hopeless cases...or so I thought Big Grin
Oct 22, 2011 12:38 PM CST
Name: Christina Karlsson
I hope you all signed up for the news letter...! Thumbs up

For those who haven't signed up yet... Nathalie married her Foreting and it didn't surprise me after having seen them both together here in Sweden. Smiling

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