Plant ofthe Month
Malvaviscus arboreus Cav.
The Sleepy Mallow is part of the Hibiscus family and originates from Central and North America. It is loved for its bright red flowers; when fully opened, the flower petals are wrapped around its stamen, looking like an unopened hibiscus flower. It blooms all year, grows well in Singapore's tropical climate and is easily propagated via seed or stem cutting. This evergreen plant attracts sunbirds which enjoy the sweet nectar and serves as a beautiful addition to attract wildlife to gardens!
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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The largest orchid in the world
The largest orchid plant in the world is the Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum), it can grow in clumps up to 3 m wide and are purported to weigh as much as a small car! Found in Singapore, this orchid can grow in the ground or in the forks of large trees. The flowers have yellow and orange-brown markings, which resemble the colours of a tiger’s coat, hence its name, the Tiger Orchid. When in full bloom, the Tiger Orchid can put on an impressive floral showcase with multiple sprays of inflorescences that is sure to excite everyone. Click on the button below to learn more.Tiger Orchid
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
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
The Blushing Bride Airplant (scientific name: Tillandsia ionantha) is a cousin to the more famous and edible Pineapple. Growing up to 10 cm tall, this epiphyte has silver-green leaves arranged in a rosette. When the plant flowers, the topmost leaves turn bright red before purple tubular flowers are produced. As its common name suggests, this low-maintenance plant does not need any growing medium but can be grown in various ways, such as being suspended in air or being mounted on driftwood or rocks. It is best grown under bright (not direct) light with regular misting and is commonly used in terrariums. The plant often forms clumps and can be propagated via division. To know more about this plant, do click the button.Blushing Bride Airplant
The Nipah Palm
Found in the mangrove swamps of Singapore, the Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans) is a truly unique palm. The sole species in the genus, Nypa fruticans has underground stems that creep beneath the mud surface, unlike most other terrestrial palms. It is one of the few palm species with fossil records that can be traced back some 70 million years earlier! The nipah palm is also utilised in many ways. The young, translucent seeds are boiled in sugar syrup and used in desserts (known as 'attap chee'), the flower stalks are cut to tap for a sugar syrup which is then crystallised to form 'gula melaka', and the dried leaf fronds were used to make roof thatches for houses in the olden days, known as attap houses.Nipah Palm
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
Flora of Singapore
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is spearheading an important and botanically meaningful project; Flora of Singapore, a catalogued description of all the plant species that can be found locally. Featuring more than 3000 species, three volumes have been published and the full project will take botanists the next 10 years to complete. Flora of Singapore is the first comprehensive effort, following in the footsteps of the great works of Henry Ridley’s Flora of the Malay Peninsula (1922-1925). With collaboration from experts worldwide, the first three volume were published in 2019, and is a great resource for formulating conservation policy and future reintroductions. Click here to read the ongoing efforts on the Flora of Singapore.16 Jan, 2020
World’s First Plant Selfie
Say hello to Pete – the Maidenhair Fern in London Zoo. Pete has taken a photo of itself – the world’s first for a plant! This groundbreaking work is part of ongoing research by scientists to develop technology to monitor remote rainforests. This is done by harnessing and storing electrical energy produced by soil bacteria associated with the plant’s photosynthesis. Click here to learn more.06 Nov, 2019
A Mimosa that learns
Researchers from Kew Gardens studying the Mimosa pudica (Touch-Me-Not) have indicated that the species displayed signs of learned behaviour. Every day, hundreds of curious visitors touched the sensitive plant, the constant disturbance has stopped this publicly accessible specimen from responding to touch. This learned behavioural response is fascinating to researchers and encourages all to rethink plant intelligence. Click here to read more.02 Oct, 2019