Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Tale Of Whiskers

Don't get me wrong, folks. I didn't bring home a pet, cat or dog. Besides,there's already our handsome Robbie in the house.

A visit to a nursery recently renewed my fascination with whiskers, of the herbal kind. The plant - Cat's Whiskers or Misai Kuching, in Malay.

'How about some misai kuching?' said the gardener at the nursery. That struck a chord. 'Yes, please. Let me have 9 of them.' Suddenly I had visions of misai kuching growing bountifully in my garden as I had seen grow in the Lake Garden when I was on an outing with the members of the Selangor and Federal Territory Gardening Soc. Now seems the right time to give them a place in my garden.

The gardener only wanted a token as the plants were not looking their best. So, out of the poly bags and into the ground they went the next day after.

It's growing! And the first flower is out! But they are nowhere near the 1.5 m height that they can be. It's standing at about 1 foot tall with only a few leaves. Have been giving extra attention to all 9 of them. That part of the garden is not the choicest too , mostly of lateritic earth. So I topped it with some good stuff and the signs are good!

What's more exciting besides the colour of the flower showing are the WHISKERS! The flowers are hermaphroditic, bell-shaped, creamy white to bluish in colour. Now, follow the exerted filaments - they extend and look like CAT'S WHISKERS. What an apt name - MISAI KUCHING! And I'd say it's the whiskers that gives the plant the delicate look and beauty.

Now, for the real thing, the cat's whiskers. The cat has about 24 movable vibrissae('whiskers'). There are also some on each cheek, over the eyes, chin and other parts of the body.

The whiskers do the most amazing job. They aid sensation and navigation. They fan out to 'size' up an opening. At the tip of the whiskers are sensory organs called proprioceptors. These receptors are very sensitvie to pressure. If the whiskers touch the opening, then the space is too tight for the cat and it will not try to go through. If the 'signal' is ok, the kitty will go through .

Cats also use their whiskers on their legs to assess their prey - size, shape, position. How the cat holds its whiskers will let you know if it is happy, angry, friendly, threatened. Yes, I've seen the scowls on the face and how the whiskers draw back against the face when the kitty is angry.

My friend, Anya at KARELTJE en ikke !!! will be able to share many wonderful stories 'coz she's a cat lover and knows tons about cats. Do visit her blog and discover more.

This post is not complete though without exalting the goodness of the herb, MISAI KUCHING. The leaves have been used for generations to treat ailments notably:

1. bladder and kidney disease
2. circulatory disorders
3. diabetes.
4. joint stiffness eg. arthritis, gout, rheumatism
5. aids in excretion of toxins from the body

So,should you need a misai kuching herbal drink, get yourself a cuppa. Remember to whisk yourself to the good doctor should you need advice.

Therein lies the beauty of WHISKERS - herbal and animal!


  1. So lovely flowers
    and yes it looks like cat whiskers ;)
    Very special interesting flower!!!

    Yes about cat whiskers
    can I tell a whole story .. LOL
    I collect the whiskers they give me LUCK :)
    Cats can have white or black whiskers !!
    Kareltje has white whiskers but sometimes BLACK,
    he is very curious,
    and if I make my eyes pretty,
    he gets sometimes a bit of black mascara on his whiskers,
    just for the fun ....... LOL
    I can do anything with Kareltje !!!

  2. Such a cute post about a remarkable looking flower..loved the flower's whiskers...fantastic!

  3. Great photos, and interesting lesson regarding whiskers!

  4. Wonderful tale of whiskers! I love it. Thanks for the uplifting comments on my blog, my dear. They mean a lot to me. Miss you. Have a great week :)

  5. oh dont temme my commnt did not get regd...repeating..happy to have come across yr informative blog..all the best to u, fmly and near ones. stay connected..dear friend..

  6. Great post! Loved the pictures!

  7. Hi Keats!
    Wonderful shots! Those flowers are amazing!!

    Blogtrotter is now showing that Reykjavik is not entirely grey... ;)). Enjoy and have a fabulous week!

  8. Hi
    Anya,he is your absolute pet and you know him so well and vice versa! Do give him a hug from me :)

    The Retired One, Gran, thanks v. much for your comments. Something to purr about :)

    ROSIDAH, we miss you too :) Take care.

    R. Ramesh, thanks for visiting and trying hard enough :) My blog comment seems to be giving the hiccups. Sorry, am not aware of it till now. Hope it resolves.

    Veronica Lee , Rena, hey! these whiskers are making news!!

    GMG, yeah,am glad the sun does shine everywhere in the world, including Reykjavik. Thanks for your comments.

  9. I wanted to post a picture of my misai kuching and you beat me to it :D This is one of my fav plant at the moment, I bought 2 from the pasar malam and just love to see how it uncurls from a small little white ball. We have been drinking this tea for some time now...I've got 2 plants - mas cotek too, which like the misai supposed to be very good. My mom said just dry the leaves and let it simmer in the cup, but I tak sampai hati to pluck them..Happy week ahead, yes to more herbs. we certainly need to boost up our immune with the virus around, stay safe and healthy :P

  10. Excellent post. I think the plant's scientific name is Orthosiphon stamineus. It's very beautiful. I will try to see if I can grow it here. I am interested in various health teas. At the moment I'm growing Gynostemma pentaphyllum, also called jiaogulan or Immortality tea.

  11. we have a packet full of misai kuching tea which my father had processed from our own plant which we grow besides our pond

  12. The wonderful part about this plant is that it is so easy to grow and propagate. After prunning, shoots will grow back again very fast and after deadheading there will be more flowers too.

  13. Great job on the misai kucing! You really have green fingers, Keats! Me, I tried to grow Nepenthes and they all turned black and rotted on me. Sigh! Now I have to stick to growing lime and chilis. Nothing delicate for me.

    I love the whiskers too. Are you planning to dry the flowers to make tea with?

    The cat whiskers para was informative! When cats are happy or excited, their whiskers and ears come forward. Like when they are playing with a bug or something they caught.

    Another good herbal plant would be Hempedu Bumi. Taken orally, it is good for liver problems, hypertension, tonsilitis, sore throat, fever and detox. Dried and crushed into a fine powder, they act as a great antiseptic and coagulant for wounds.

    See you soon!


  14. Very informative post! Often we see, we admire too, but without realizing its actual worth. Lovely post!

  15. Hi
    M.Kate, i look forward to your post on the misai kuching. I'm sure you have other bits to share:)Malaysia is truly a herbal paradise and the potential is tremendous.

    Prospero, thanks for visiting and your valuable info. Will find out more about immortality tea.

    xplorer, here's to good health!

    Suzanne Casamento, I haven't tried the misai kuching tea - ? wonder how it tastes.

    Autumn Belle, thanks for the tips :) I enjoy your blog and you certainly have green fingers yourself!

    ~Covert_Operations'78~,Ha! Ha ! plants do die on me too. it's knowing their habits and we'll have more success.
    It's the leaves that make the tea.
    yes, the hempedu bumi is often mistaken for a weed! Known as the King of Bitter too.Guess that's the taste.
    Have a good day!

    Indrani, how true your comment ! Just posting this, i'm learning more about this herb from fellow bloggers.

  16. I have this, too but mine is purple. Or is it blue ... I wonder if there are other colors as well ...


  17. Keats, you know cats and dogs love to piss at plants and trunks to sort of mark their territory. Make sure none will sneak in and do that. The animals may simply find the whiskers irresistible.....

    Lovely flowers you have there Keats, worth all the attention given!

  18. HI
    lili11, I have not seen any other colours. I think it's bluish. Saw a lot of them in the Secret Garden the other day. Thanks for popping in.

    Bangchik and Kakdah, my dog, Robbie pees here and there but have not spotted him doing it near the whiskers! Cats aplenty in the neighbourhood but Robbie won't let them near him.
    Enjoy your posts. Both you and your wife are absolute gardeners.

  19. Heard it works quite well for mild diebetes patient.

  20. Thanks for stopping by my place and leaving a kind comment. Love your pictures, especially the one taken of the cat. Captured purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfectly!

  21. Hi
    Pete, good stuff, the misai kuching!

    Unseen Rajasthan, the flowers are certainly lovely. Now that they are gone, the plant looks plain.

    SarahA, do drop by again! Have a good day!

  22. Beautiful useful and informative post with great photos!

  23. What a beautiful flowers! I have seen these flowers before, and now I know the name, thanks to you..

  24. Very informative post and the pictures are great.

  25. Hi
    MedaM, thanks for your compliments.

    Icy BC, now am waiting for more flowers.

    Onkar, thanks for your comments. Do pop in again.

  26. Hi Keats, Thanks for visiting my blog and sorry it took me so long to come by. I never realized how beautiful the misai kuching is. Hope your hard work pays off and your garden will bloom for your pleasure.

  27. Hi Kess and her Mama, thanks for popping by too. I 'm giving them extra attention as that part of the garden is not conducive but I think they'll survive! Have a good day! Hi to Kess too!

  28. I'm fond of herbal teas - I'll need to try some misai kuching!

    The planes in my photo were heading to an airshow about 6miles from where I was. They flew around overhead for several minutes as they got into formation - so I was able to get a really good view! :)

  29. Hi Kitty, good to hear you like drinking herbal teas. green tea is also a very popular drink.


Great to have you popping in!