Plant of the Month
Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Holy Basil, is a perennial herb with softly hairy leaves that are rich in health-promoting antioxidants and flavonoids. When crushed, leaves smell like clove, mint, and Italian basil, and are used as a culinary herb for their spicy and bitter flavour. The plant is sacred to Hindus who place lighted lamps near it during the religious ceremonies of Deepavali, the Festival of Lights.
Animal of the Month
The Paradise Tree Snake, like all other members of the Chrysopelea genus, has the astonishing ability to "fly", flattening their bodies and gliding from tree to tree. Found in our Nature Reserves, they feed on lizards and small birds that they snatch from the treetops. They are identified by black dorsal colorations with green and yellow spots, with additional red spots forming floral patterns along the middle of their backs. )
Herb of the Sun
Marigolds hold spiritual significance to Indian communities, but did you know that these flowers originated from Mexico and Central America? Transported to India more than 350 years ago by Spanish and Portuguese traders, these puffy flowers come in vibrant shades of saffron, orange and yellow and are said to represent the sun's energy. Cut flowers are used in auspicious rituals and festivals like Deepavali. Both the flowers and leaves of this free-flowering shrub are also used in Ayurvedic medicine for their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiepileptic effects.Learn More
In a nutshell - Peanuts
When you snack on roasted peanuts or rich creamy peanut butter, have you ever wondered why the peanut grows underground even though its flowers bloom above ground? The peanut is a dehiscent legume (dry fruit) from the plant, Arachis hypogaea whose flowers and legumes initially form aboveground following pollination. As the fruit develops, the flower stalk elongates due to rapid proliferation of cells under the ovary and curves downward, forcing the young fruit into the ground. The peanut pod matures underground and typically contains two seeds. High in protein and other essential nutrients, the seed leaves (cotyledons) are regularly used in Asian cuisine such as gado-gado and peanut sauce for Satay! The peanut can also be used to make other useful products such as peanut soap and biodiesel fuel.In a nutshell - Peanuts
Jams, syrups, and pies
Did you know that the fruit of Flacourtia inermis or Rukam masam can be made into great jams? The tree produces plenty of round berries that turn deep scarlet when ripe. These are usually not eaten raw because of its sharp, sour taste. However, when processed with sugar, they are transformed into delicious jams, chutneys, syrups, and even pies! You can spot this species along streets, parks or gardens adorned with young red leaves and sometimes laden with red fruit.Jams, syrups, and pies
Did you know that Lucky Bamboo is not a true bamboo? Although the stems resemble bamboo, it belongs to the genus Dracaena and is scientifically known as Dracaena sanderiana. The Lucky Bamboo is popular during the Lunar New Year as gifts and decorations for its association with good fortune and abundance. They are sometimes sold as a long stem with a spiral tip. The spiral growth is achieved by laying a stem on its side and allowing the stem to grow upwards and rotating the stem again and again until properly curled.1965
Did you know Artemisia vulgaris, or the Common Mugwort, is a herb with a multitude of ethnobotanical uses? The leaves are aromatic yet bitter tasting and can be consumed fresh or cooked. In Japan and Korea, the leaves are cooked with fish and meat to mask strong odours and used as a colouring agent in rice dumplings. In traditional Asian medicine, the stems, leaves and flowers are prepared and used as sedatives or appetite stimulants.Multi-tasking Mugwort
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.