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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

Plant ofthe Month

Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Wall. ex Nees

Andrographis paniculata, commonly known as the King of Bitters, is named for its intensely bitter tasting leaves. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, it is used to reduce fever, inflammation, blood sugar and high blood pressure. This common weed in the tropics and subtropics grows well in most soil types in semi-shade. Its white flowers have purple streaks and can self-pollinate.


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.)

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Curcuma longa

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!

DYK_Dracaena sanderiana_Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh

Lucky Bamboo

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.

Hoya nummularioides

Richly Fragrant Hoya nummularioides

Did you know, the flowers of Hoyas (Wax Plants) produce an array of fragrances often described to smell like chocolate, citrus or vanilla? The fragrance of Hoya flowers tends to intensify during the night which suggest night pollinators might be their target audience. Hoya nummularioides produces tiny clusters of star-like flowers. Despite its small size, the white waxy flowers pack quite an aromatic punch and are one of the most richly fragrant Hoyas, often compared to the perfume of Jasmine and Honey!

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
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

Sunda Pangolin

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

Flora & Fauna News

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Pollen-paper - An alternative and environmentally sustainable paper

Conventional paper is made using wood pulp in an energy intensive process, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a new type of paper using sunflower pollen grains. This patented pollen paper has been rendered non-allergenic, is recyclable and is less energy intensive to produce. High resolution colour images can be printed on pollen paper and “erased” in a much simpler process using a common alkaline reagent. This method is less damaging to the quality of the paper and has less negative impacts on the environment and human health. Pollen paper is also more versatile with potential uses in soft electronics, green sensors, and generators. While there are still issues such as scalability to explore, this study holds promise of a more environmentally sustainable paper.

04 May, 2022

9,200 undiscovered tree species worldwide

A recent study on the forests of the world estimated that there are 73,000 tree species in the world. Of this, 9,200 tree species are new to science. This is 14 percent higher than the total known tree species worldwide. These undiscovered species likely have small populations and are limited in where they can be found in nature, making them vulnerable to climate change and deforestation. Approximately 40% of these undiscovered species are believed to be in South America, with the greatest diversity in the Amazon Basin and Andes-Amazon interface. In the face of our climate crisis, forest conservation should increasingly become an important priority especially for vulnerable and diversity hotspots around the world.

06 Apr, 2022

The Potential of Enset in Food Security

The impacts of climate change continue to pose a threat to our food systems. Alternative food crops like the drought resistant Enset (Ensete ventricosum) are more important than ever as they could potentially support our food security under climate change. The Enset, a relative of the Banana (Musa species), is a staple crop in Ethiopia cultivated for human food and medicine, animal feed and fiber. They are starchy in nature and are fermented before making into porridge or bread. Currently, Enset is an important part of the diet for about 20 million Ethiopians. Scientists predict that it can be successfully grown over a wider range of environmental and climate conditions in Africa, potentially supporting over 100 million Africans in the future. However, adoption of Enset as a crop outside of Africa has its hurdles, especially with other competing staple crops that are faster to harvest, have higher nutritional value and are less labour-intensive to process.

01 Mar, 2022