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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
Cenchrus purpurascens ‘Little Bunny’

Plant ofthe Month

Cenchrus purpurascens 'Little Bunny'

Cenchrus purpurascens ‘Little Bunny’ or the Little Bunny Dwarf Fountain Grass, is one of the smallest cultivars of Fountain Grass standing at approximately 0.5m tall. This cultivar derived its common name from its inflorescence that resembles a rabbit’s puffy tail. Try to find the ‘bunny’s tail’ the next time you see this grass!

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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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
Sonneratia caseolaris

Breathing in the mud

Did you know the conical structures sticking out of the soil at the base of some plants help plants breathe? These specialised root structures are known as pneumatophores and are usually seen in mangrove species. Sonneratia caseolaris (Crabapple Mangrove), a mangrove species, develops pneumatophores that protrude out of the soil allowing root respiration in the anaerobic muddy soil. When growing on well-drained soil, the plant may not produce as many pneumatophores as there is little need for assistance in aboveground respiration. In some parts of Southeast Asia, the pneumatophores are harvested and used as corks or fishing-floats when dried.

Sonneratia caseolaris

Sunda Slow Loris

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

Flora & Fauna News

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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

A game of hide-and-seek

High in the Hengduan mountains of Southwest China, the valuable herb Fritillaria delavayi commonly known as Fritillary or 梭砂贝母(suō shā bèi mǔ) in Chinese, grows. Traditionally used to treat respiratory ailments, the group of Fritillary herb (川贝 chuān bèi) can be found in Asian cough remedies. A kilogram of the plant’s bulb is valued more than SGD 600 (approx. USD480). This herb can only grow at high elevations with cold and dry conditions, making the growing conditions hard to replicate for cultivation. As a result, fritillary can only be harvested from the wild and wild populations run the risk of getting overharvested. However, researchers found that in areas where fritillary is popularly harvested, the colours of the plant have become duller, blending into the surrounding. Whereas in inaccessible areas, the colours of the herb remain vibrant. This plant may be the first threatened species where natural selection can be observed to have played a part for the species to hide from its predator – Humans. Click on the title to read more.

08 Feb, 2021

Newfound Species is Possibly World's Ugliest Orchid

Researchers from Kew have described a new leafless orchid with mottled brown flowers that resemble a mouldy paper bag. The orchid, Gastrodia agnicellus spends most of its life hidden beneath leaf litter in the tropical forests of Madagascar. It emerges after pollination, where fruit pods grow above the leaf litter for better seed dispersal. This small orchid relies on fungi for food as it does not have any photosynthetic ability. The flower has a musky rose-like scent that intensifies under warmer temperatures to attract its pollinators. Click the title above to read more.

20 Jan, 2021