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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
POTM_Abelmoschus esculentus_Shi_Biying_2

Plant ofthe Month

Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), or better known as Lady’s-Finger, is an edible plant belonging to the Hibiscus family. Unripe fruits are harvested and used as a vegetable in many Asian cuisines. When eaten, the Okra produces a mucilaginous texture which consists of soluble fibre, results in a gooey or slimy mouthfeel.

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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Melocactus pruinosus

Desert Survival Techniques

Did you know why many cacti are spiny and ribbed? Most people know that the spines are a defense mechanism against thirsty herbivores craving a bite of their juicy stem. Not many know that these spines also shade the stem from intense sun rays and trap moisture from passing fog. In addition, their presence creates a layer of still air around the cactus which slows water loss from the cactus to the surrounding dry air. After a downpour, the ribs allow cacti to expand like an accordion to maximize water absorption, and then gradually return to its original shape as the stored water is depleted. The ribs also create additional shade to protect the stem from sunburn.

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Drosera paradoxa

Sticky Situation

Drosera paradoxa (Sundew) falls under the largest genus of the carnivorous plants – Droseraceae. Despite the lack of a physical trap like the Venus fly trap, the Sundew attracts insects with nectar and its brightly colored tentacle-like structures. The Sundew responds to the presence of prey on its sticky specialised leaves by catapulting its tentacles towards the center of the leaf. The sticky tentacles contain digestive enzymes that slowly digest prey, leaving only the exoskeleton. Researchers reported that once the tentacles have flung inwards, they cannot be unwound or used again. Fortunately, many new leaves are produced every few days so the Sundew can set new traps for unsuspecting insects. Click on the button below to learn more.

Drosera paradoxa
DYK - Clitoria ternatea

Colour-changing magic

Commonly known as Butterfly Pea plant, the flowers of Clitoria ternatea is one of the key ingredient for the colour changing drink which is taking over the world by storm. Dried flowers are boiled to produce a blue solution, and it changes to purple when lemon juice is added! In traditional Peranakan culture, the blue pigment is also used for popular dessert like Kueh Salat. Butterfly Pea plant is widely cultivated in home gardens and the roots can improve soil quality by fixing nitrogen. Click on the button to learn more.

Clitoria ternatea
3019

The Gelam Tree

Do you know that Kampong Glam derived its name from the gelam tree (Melaleuca cajuputi)? Kampong Glam was named after the gelam trees that were growing or planted in the area. ‘Kampong’ refers to village in Malay and ‘Glam’ (or ‘gelam’) is the common name for the tree Melaleuca cajuputi, a tree from the myrtle family (Myrtaceae). This tree has a distinct papery bark and has many medicinal uses. Kampong Glam used to be just by the sea and the gelam tree had many practical uses for boat building by the Bugis sailors! Although the gelam tree is extinct from the wild in Singapore, it still widely planted and cultivated in the urban areas of Singapore. You can even see some fine specimens planted in Kampong Glam!

The Gelam Tree
DYK - Ravenala madagascariensis

Traveller’s Palm

Did you know that the Traveller’s Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) is not a true palm? It belongs to the Strelitziaceae family and it is a close relative to the Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae). Native to Madagascar, the Traveller’s Palm is popular in tropical landscape because of its enormous leaves which are arranged in a fan shape. It produces big, erect inflorescence like that of Heliconias. However, it seldom blooms in Singapore due to the wet weather. Its fruit are brown capsules, enclosing numerous seeds covered with bright blue arils.

Ravenala madagascariensis
Video

Sunda Pangolin

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

Flora & Fauna News

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'Bee' thankful for the bumblebees

Climate changes results in the disruption of timing between the plants and their pollinators. Researchers from ETH Zurich discovered that bumblebees may help to overcome these challenges by biting leaves of the plants that have not flowered yet, to stimulate the new flower production when pollen is scarce. Click here to read more.

02 Jun, 2020

Ancient date palm seeds found and grown after 2,000 years

Seven date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) have been grown from among hundreds of seeds found in caves and in the ruins of an ancient palace built in the 1st century BC in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. The seeds were radiocarbon dated to be close to 2,000 years of age, making them the oldest seeds ever germinated. Click the title above to read more. The ancient seeds were prepared by soaking them in water, adding hormones that encourage germination and rooting, then planting them in soil in a quarantined area. Genetic analysis showed that several of them came from female date palms that were pollinated by male palms from different areas. This hints that the ancient Judean people cultivated the palms using sophisticated plant breeding techniques, producing the best tasting dates that are popular in the culture and religions of the Middle East and also symbolic of oasis agriculture.

25 May, 2020

Little Coffee Heroes

Coffee leaf rust has been a significant challenge for coffee producers since 1980s. Recently, a field research in the lush central mountains of Puerto Rico found that the Asian tramps snails (Bradybaena similaris) prey on the rust. Ironically, these snails are labelled as notorious pests of many crops such as citrus, grapes, legumes and vegetables. However, the presence of the fungal parasite - Lecanicullium lecanii on the affected leaves creates competition, shifting the snails’ focus towards the rust. This preliminary finding is essential to develop a long term solution that manages the snail’s population while suppressing the rust damage on coffee.

03 Apr, 2020
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