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Flora & Fauna Web

Browse the database for plants and animals found in Singapore online

Total no. of Flora Species & Cultivars
Total no. of Fauna Species
Cocos nucifera

Plant ofthe Month

Cocos nucifera L.

A solitary coastal palm, the Cocos nucifera, or Coconut, is fast-growing and can reach up to 30 m in height. Besides coconut water, known for its refreshing and nutritious qualities, the Coconut’s palm fronds can be plaited into a wrap for the ketupat, a traditional Malay rice cake served during festive occasions.

Sunda Slow Loris

Animal ofthe Month

Nycticebus coucang (Boddaert, 1785)

The critically endangered Sunda Slow Loris is the only venomous primate in Singapore. It produces a yellow secretion from glands on the insides of its elbow, which combines with saliva to form venom. During the day, it sleeps on branches or in tree holes by tucking its head into its belly and rolling into a ball. Globally, the population size of Sunda Slow Loris is decreasing due to habitat loss and illegal pet trade.)

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Citrus medica

Finger-licking Citrus peels

Besides its unusual appearance, did you know the fruit of Citrus medica or Fingered Citron makes excellent zest? The Fingered Citron has extremely thick peels that makes up most of the fruit. Its rind is rough and has a bumpy texture, but is fragrant and lacks the bitterness commonly found in lemon and orange peels. This citrus fruit is a great alternative in recipes calling for lemon or orange zest. The zest can also be diced and cooked in sugar water to make candied fruit, perfect for snacking!

Finger-licking Citrus peels
Ocimum basilicum

Fragrant, sweet and everything nice

Did you know that besides the leaves, the seeds of the Basil or Ocimum basilicum are also edible! Basil seeds contain little carbohydrates but are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. When soaked in water, the seeds exude a gelatinous mass on the outside yet remain crunchy. Basil seeds can be added to beverages, desserts and confectioneries to add texture to refreshments.

Fragrant, sweet and everything nice
Flacourtia inermis

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
Aristolochia acuminata

A Pipe’s Trap

Did you know the Aristolochia acuminata (Dutchman’s Pipe) can trap pollinating insects in its flower? This woody climber produces small pipe-like flowers, specially modified to attract and trap unsuspecting pollinating insects like fruit flies. The trap works when the insect slides down the slippery and hairy tube of a fresh flower that opens in an upright position. As the insect feeds on the nectar or attempts to escape, it is dusted in pollen, and its movements pollinate the flower. After fertilisation, the flower starts to wilt and tilt downwards, providing an escape route for the trapped insects.

Dutchman’s Pipe
Corypha umbraculifera

World’s Largest Inflorescence

Did you know the Corypha umbraculifera (Talipot Palm) has the largest branched inflorescence in the world? Its inflorescence has roughly 24 million tiny yellowish-white flowers and can reach up to 9 m long and 12 m wide! This long-lived palm can grow to 80 years old and puts up a magnificent inflorescence just once in its lifetime, before dying. Due to the its durability, manuscripts were made of the leaves of the Talipot Palm in India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

World’s Largest Inflorescence
Stenochlaena palustris

Furled fiddleheads

Did you know that the young fronds of Stenochlaena palustris or Akar Paku, are edible? While most ferns are inedible to humans, the Akar Paku is an exception. In Southeast Asia, the furled fronds also known as fiddleheads can be fried with sambal belacan and eaten as a vegetable. The fern is traditionally consumed as 'ulam', or salad, in Bornean cuisine. Its taste has been compared to that of asparagus and research has shown that it is a promising source of antioxidants.

Furled fiddleheads

Sunda Slow Loris

Video of wild Sunda Slow Loris in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.

Flora & Fauna News

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Coffee boosts forestation

Scientists from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii found that coffee pulp sped up restoration of exploited land in tropical regions. A post-agricultural plot in Costa Rica covered with 50 cm-thick layer of coffee pulp, the leftover of coffee production that are typically discarded, was transformed into a small forest with pioneer tree species after two years. The coffee-boosted plot had 60% more canopy cover by trees that are 4 times taller than those in the non-treated control plot. The coffee pulp treated topsoil was rich in Carbon and Nitrogen, and the amount of Sulphur, Phosphorus, Iron and Manganese were much higher than the control plot.

30 Apr, 2021

Talking with plants

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University have found an innovative way to communicate with plants through electrical signals. The Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant that traps insects by shutting its modified leaves when prey touch trigger hairs. Researchers were able to use electrical impulses to close the leaf trap and even ‘pick up’ a thin wire using a connected robotic arm on command! This was done by connecting the leaf trap to a smartphone via an electrode. As electrical signals generated by plants tend to be weak, the discovery of a novel hydrogel with strong adhesive properties was key to making this type of communication with the plant possible. As researchers deepen their understanding, they hope to develop plant-based robotic systems that can better handle delicate and sensitive tasks than the current technology.

14 Apr, 2021

Home Gardens in Britain: Secret Nectar Source and Valuable Biodiversity Habitats

Home gardens are the biggest source of nectar for pollinating insects like bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles in Britain. The study led by the University of Bristol found that the amount of nectar produced in urban areas was concentrated in residential gardens -- roughly 85 per cent. In the cities studied, home gardens produce the most nectar per unit area of land and they cover the largest area of land studied compared to parks and allotment gardens. The research highlights the pivotal role that gardens play in supporting pollinator conservation and biodiversity in urban areas. These gardens form a valuable resource of food and habitats for pollinating insects. Gardeners can have a positive impact by choosing pollinator friendly plants, garden design and cultural maintenance practices. Click the title above to read more.

09 Apr, 2021