Plant ofthe Month
Kopsia singapurensis Ridl.
Kopsia singapurensis is native to and named after Singapore. Its fragrant flower bear the same colours as Singapore’s national flag; with white petals and a red centre. Another similarity is while the five stars are depicted in the flag, the flower of Kopsia singapurensis has 5 petals and are fused (or whimsically ‘united’) at the base. The species is hardy and tolerates waterlogged soils, but is threatened in the wild due to habitat loss, thus known to be "Critically Endangered" in Singapore.
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.)
Did youknow?Learn More
Did you know the Tamarind tree is the source of Asam commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking? Part of the legume family (Fabaceae), the tree can be found along the streets of Singapore. The mildly fragrant flowers are pollinated by insects and develop into bean pods. Within the fruit is the tasty pulp, prized for its complex and sour flavour, giving dishes their characteristic Asam taste. Outside of Asia it is a component in the renowned Worcestershire sauce. The Tamarind tree is hardy and long lived, making it an ideal urban tree. There are currently three individuals in Singapore that have been registered as Heritage Trees!Tasty Tamarind
The ‘Ribena®’ Plant
Did you know you can make your own ‘Ribena®’ from a plant that is easy to grow in Singapore? Ribena® is a fruit drink made from blackcurrants which grow best in temperate climates. However, you can make your own version of Ribena® with Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) calyces. The calyx (plural: calyces) is the outermost layer of the flower and is composed of all the sepals. After a Roselle flower blooms and withers, the calyx swells to form a deep red, fleshy structure that resembles a flower bud. By boiling the calyces in hot water and adding a little sugar, you can make a nutritious drink that tastes like Ribena® and is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Roselle is well-suited to Singapore’s climate, so plants will produce an abundance of calyces—enough to satisfy your thirst! Click on the green button to learn more about Roselle.Roselle
It is believed that the Cicada Tree (Ploiarium alternifolium) got its name after local folks saw cicadas perched on this shrub. Native to Singapore, this plant can be found in secondary forests and near water bodies such as freshwater swamps and reservoirs. When the wind blows, its glossy red-edge leaves dance and move like fingers! It has light pink-tipped white flowers which attract bees, butterflies and birds. The fruit splits open like an umbrella when ripe and releases numerous seeds.Ploiarium alternifolium
Did you know that Grass Jelly is not made from grass? The popular jelly which is often added to drinks or desserts is made from a member of the mint family (Family Lamiaceae) and botanically known as Platostoma palustre. The leaves are boiled in water with potassium carbonate, the plant material is removed, and the liquid cools to form a black jelly. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the jelly has cooling properties which affect a person’s internal balance of yin and yang. One lab-based study showed that extracts from the plant had anticancer activity. This plant can easily be grown in Singapore and produces attractive spikes of dainty, blue flowers. Click on the button below to learn more.Black Cincau
Sunda Slow Loris
Video of wild Sunda Slow Loris in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
'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