Plant ofthe Month
Vanda Miss Joaquim
In 1981, Vanda Miss Joaquim stood out from among 40 flowers and was chosen to be Singapore’s National Flower. Its bright colours, resilience, hardiness and free-flowering nature are qualities that reflect the Singapore spirit. The orchid is named after Miss Agnes Joaquim who successfully crossed the parent species, Vanda teres var. andersonii (♀) and Vanda hookeriana (♂) in 1893, creating Singapore’s first orchid hybrid!
Animal ofthe Month
Iomys horsfieldii (Waterhouse, 1838)
The endangered Horsfield’s Flying Squirrel is one of three species of flying squirrel recorded from Singapore. A nocturnal animal, it emerges from its tree hole to forage mainly on fruits during the night, returning to its tree hole to sleep in during the day. The squirrel glides amongst trees on its gliding membrane which stretches across its four limbs, and its tail which is flattened.)
Did youknow?Learn More
Sacrificing seeds for pollination
Did you know that the Monkey Apple (Glochidion littorale) is pollinated by a seed parasite? Native to Singapore, the Monkey Apple attracts its pollinator, the Leaf-flower Moth (Epicephala species) by offering the moth caterpillars its seeds as food! The moth pollinates and deposits eggs in the plant’s ovary. After the fruit develops, the hatched young then feed on some of the seeds. This strategy of sacrificing some seeds for the greater good of the species is one of many plant-insect interactions in our tropical ecosystem.Monkey Apple
Delicious Turmeric Flower
The Turmeric or Kunyit (Curcuma longa) is popular for its edible rhizomes, widely used in cuisines, traditional medicine and cosmetic products. Did you know that the inflorescence of the Turmeric is also edible? The spike-like inflorescence grows up from between the leaf sheaths while the true flowers are small and yellow, borne inside the bracts of the inflorescence. Lower bracts are pale green with whitish streaks while upper bracts are white and can sometimes have pink tips. These bracts bear a mint-like, spicy fragrance and have a crunchy texture. They can be eaten raw as ulam, dipped in sambal belacan, or cooked in stews. Delicious!1904
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
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
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
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
Rediscovery of Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea in Singapore
Recent floristic surveys around Singapore have yielded interesting finds for the genus, Mucuna, including rediscoveries of previously thought to be extinct species like the Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea – A small population of this critically endangered vine, was rediscovered near the coast of the remote island, Pulau Brani, Singapore. This genus from the legume family is predominantly made up of lianas and known for the irritant hairs present on the surface of fruit pods. Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea was first described in the late 1900s and thought to be extinct due to habitat disturbances by land reclamation, until its rediscovery in 2018 . This has given researchers opportunity to thoroughly describe the species’ detailed characteristics, and allow collection of plant materials for propagation, with the aim of one day reintroducing the species into Singapore’s landscape.01 Aug, 2022
The First of its Kind in Singapore
On the northeastern coast of Singapore, a lush, 27 m tall tree in Changi has a unique identity. Using a combination of techniques – population genetics and morphological evidence, researchers from Singapore, UK and the US discovered that this tree is the first recorded natural hybrid between two critically endangered local species - Sindora coriacea and Sindora echinocalyx. It is also the first instance of hybridisation in the genus Sindora. Named Sindora × changiensis, after the location it was discovered to be growing, carbon dating estimated this tree to be at least 226 years old! Conservation efforts are ongoing to propagate this hybrid and saplings from this tree have been planted islandwide in Singapore.05 Jul, 2022
Plants Can Soon Grow on the Moon!
Scientists from the University of Florida have germinated seeds in the Moon's soil! 3 different samples of lunar soils or lunar regolith, collected during Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions were used and Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were successfully germinated. However, it was observed that seedlings exhibited greater stress at the physical and genetic level, when grown on mature soils - Mature and young lunar soils have differerent compositions as the former is exposed to more cosmic winds. Although promising, further studies are required on how the addition of water and the presence of plants affect lunar soil minerology and importantly how to optimize lunar soils in order for plants to truly grow in situ on the moon.26 May, 2022