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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_Euphorbia_pulcherrima_Jennie_Tang

Plant ofthe Month

Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch

Every year around late November, the nights in Central America become longer, triggering the leafy bracts of the Poinsettia to turn a lovely shade of red. This change in colour helps the tiny, yellow flowers of the plant to attract nectar-seeking birds and insects for pollination. Always a popular Christmas plant decoration, they add a cheerful splash of colour to the home for the holidays!

Nycticebus coucang

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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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!

5292
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
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
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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Video

Sunda Slow Loris

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

Flora & Fauna News

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Discovery of Germination in Pine Cone Fossil

A fossilised pine cone with germinated seeds encased in Baltic amber was discovered. Researchers of Oregon State University explained that precocious germination is very rare in gymnosperms like pine, with only one naturally occuring example described from 1965. However, germination of seeds inside the fruits of angiosperms or flowering plants is not uncommon especially in the absence of seed dormancy. This discovery in amber is the first record of fossil seed viviparity in plants. The research also found that this vegetatitve viviparity may have connections to winter frost, suggesting that it may have happened much earlier than the discovery.

23 Nov, 2021

Discovery of New Carnivorous Plant

For the first time in two decades, researchers in British Columbia identified a new carnivorous plant; Triantha occidentalis! This carnivorous plant grows in nutrient-poor, boggy but brightly lit areas on the west coast of North America, from California to Alaska. The delicate flower stalk of Triantha occidentalis might seem like a nice perch for insects. However, the sticky hairs on the flower stalk means certain death as the plant ensnares passing prey and absorb its nutrients with the help of digestive enzymes it secretes. This plant is unique in that it traps insects near its insect-pollinated flowers, showing a careful balance of carnivory and pollination. Only smaller insects like midges are captured while larger and stronger pollinators like bees and butterflies can escape from its sticky trap. The discovery of the plant in this well-studied eco-system shows that there are more surprises yet to be discovered in nature.

05 Nov, 2021

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
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