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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
Cucurbita moschata_Jennie Tang

Plant ofthe Month

Cucurbita moschata Duchesne

The Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) in popular in both Western and Eastern communities. In Asian countries, the leaves and fruit including the seeds are eaten in stews and stir-fries. In America, carving pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns during autumn is practised, it is often regarded as a symbol of Halloween. This tradition likely originated from the Irish folktale of “Stingy Jack” and was brought to the shores of the New World through immigrants.

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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Dimocarpus longan

Eye of the Dragon

Did you know, Longan (Dimocarpus longan) in Mandarin translates to Dragon’s Eye (龙眼)? The fruit’s dark brown seed is encapsulated in succulent, semi-translucent white flesh, which imaginatively resembles an eye as the common name references. The fruit consumed fresh is rich in vitamins A and C. They can be dried to prolong their shelf life and will continue to retain their sweet flavour.

Eye of the Dragon
Nephelium lappaceum

The Hairy Red Fruit

You may be familiar with the Rambutan fruit, but did you know the Rambutan tree (Nephelium lappaceum) is native to Singapore? Found in the rainforests of Malesia, this tree can grow to heights of 25 m. The common name, Rambutan, is derived from the Malay word for hair (rambut), and it refers to the red hairy fruit wall that encapsulates the sweet white pulp surrounding a seed. Rambutan pulp is rich in vitamin C and often consumed as a snack or dessert.

The Hairy Red Fruit
Syzygium polyanthum

Our Native Spice Tree

Did you know the Syzygium polyanthum or Indonesian Bay-leaf is a spice tree native to Singapore? Found in tropical forests, this tree can grow to heights of over 30 m. Its aromatic young leaves are cooked fresh or dried in meat and vegetable curries and stews, and is commonly sold in Indonesian markets and by street vendors. The sour tasting fruit are edible when ripe. Besides its edible uses, a dye can be extracted from the bark and its timber is suitable for making furniture.

Our Native Spice Tree
Artemisia vulgaris

Multi-tasking Mugwort

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
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

Sunda Slow Loris

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

Flora & Fauna News

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Staghorn ferns work together

On a remote Australian island, researchers have found the first evidence of division of labour among plants similar to the social organisation of ant or bee colonies. Groups of wild Platycerium bifurcatum (staghorn ferns) on trees displayed differences in structure and reproductive capacity depending on its position in the tree; whether it is higher or lower in the canopy. The ferns at the top have erect antler-like fronds that gathered and channelled water to waxy basal fronds that let water drip down to ferns below. Ferns positioned higher in the tree also have more spore-bearing fronds. Ferns lower in the canopy tended to have antler-like fronds that hung downwards, absorbent basal fronds that efficiently trapped water and were usually sterile. This level of cooperation and division of labour was once thought to be restricted to insects and animals, but now appear to exist among plants!

25 Oct, 2021

Tiny forests in big cities

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, 7 tiny forests of about 200 square meters each were planted to promote urban cooling, water regulation, and boost biodiversity; as a nature-based solution to the environmental challenges brought on by climate change. These forests were planted with native species planted close together for a short rejuvenation period as saplings grow quickly to compete for light, water and nutrients. This idea for close forest planting was pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. The Netherlands has since planted 144 forests and aims to plant their 200th forest by the end of 2021. Since 2018, 636 animals such as hummingbirds, frogs and an additional 298 plant species to the original species were observed in these tiny planted forests.

13 Aug, 2021

Renewed hope for Singapore’s Margaritaria!

Since the rediscovery of Margaritaria indica in 2012, researchers in Singapore have found another two mature trees on Kusu Island and Bukit Brown. Pollination is the bottleneck of reproduction for this dioecious species where male and female flowers are produced on different trees. The discovery of viable seeds from the tree in Bukit Brown is an indication that both male and female individuals are around. There is renewed hope for species recovery efforts to safeguard the future of this species in Singapore. With this latest discovery, propagation trials for this critically endangered species are currently under way.

05 Jul, 2021