Plant ofthe Month
Selaginella willdenowii (Desv. ex Poir.) Baker
Selaginella willdenowii or Willdenow’s Spikemoss was named after a German naturalist – Carl Ludwig von Willdenow. Native to Singapore, this fern ally is easily identified by its iridescent, metallic bluish green fronds, which reveal hues of green and pink when viewed at different angles. Found naturally on the forest floors, its preference for low light and moist conditions makes Willdenow’s Spikemoss a suitable house plant and good groundcover in shady conditions.
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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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!1904
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.1965
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
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
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
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
Plants Can Soon Grow on the Moon!
Scientists from the University of Florida have germinated seeds in the Moon's soil! 3 different samples of lunar soils or lunar regolith, collected during Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions were used and Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were successfully germinated. However, it was observed that seedlings exhibited greater stress at the physical and genetic level, when grown on mature soils - Mature and young lunar soils have differerent compositions as the former is exposed to more cosmic winds. Although promising, further studies are required on how the addition of water and the presence of plants affect lunar soil minerology and importantly how to optimize lunar soils in order for plants to truly grow in situ on the moon.26 May, 2022
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