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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
Heptapleurum arboricola

Plant of the Month

Heptapleurum arboricola

The Dwarf Umbrella-Tree (Heptapleurum arboricola) has attractive, glossy palmate leaves comprising 7 to 9 oval leaflets arranged in a whorl, resembling the spokes of an umbrella. In its native range of Hainan and Taiwan, this evergreen shrub is found growing along stream banks, wet forests and sometimes epiphytic on trees. It is commonly planted in Singapore as a hedge and screening plant and does best in semi-shade on well-drained, moist soil.


Animal of the Month

Anthracoceros albirostris

The Oriental Pied Hornbill is a large bird with black plumage and white patches. It's distinctive large bill is pale yellow. They nest in suitable holes in trees, sealing most of the hole up using a plaster made of mud and plant fibres. Their diet mostly consists of fruits, but they also feed on small animals such as reptiles, birds and mammals.

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Elaeocarpus grandiflorus

Pretty like a Fairy

The Fairy Petticoat (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus) is a tree that can reach up to 25 m tall and develops reddish young leaves that mature to a green colour, leaves turn red again when senescing, before dropping off. This low maintenance species tolerates dry soils when it is mature. Did you know how the common name Fairy Petticoat came about? This common name references the clusters of small, pendulous flowers with white, frilly petals surrounded by pink sepals that the tree produces. These whimsical looking flowers bring to mind a fairy’s skirt!

Elaeocarpus grandiflorus
Syzygium polyanthum

Our Native Spice Tree

Did you know the Syzygium polyanthum or Indonesian Bay-leaf is a spice tree native to Singapore? Found in tropical forests, this tree can grow to heights of over 30 m. Its aromatic young leaves are cooked fresh or dried in meat and vegetable curries and stews, and is commonly sold in Indonesian markets and by street vendors. The sour tasting fruit are edible when ripe. Besides its edible uses, a dye can be extracted from the bark and its timber is suitable for making furniture.

Our Native Spice Tree
DYK - Parkia speciosa

Stink Beans

Did you know that the garlicky scent of Stink Bean is so powerful that it lingers in your body for a few days after consumption! Highly prized in Southeast Asia for its flavour, these innocent looking beans are the seeds of Parkia speciosa, and are often cooked as vegetable. Seeds are developed from its iconic cream-yellow flower clusters, which emit strong rancid smell and attract bats for pollination.

Parkia speciosa
Hibiscus sabdariffa

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.

Stenochlaena palustris

Furled fiddleheads

Did you know that the young fronds of Stenochlaena palustris or Akar Paku, are edible? While most ferns are inedible to humans, the Akar Paku is an exception. In Southeast Asia, the furled fronds also known as fiddleheads can be fried with sambal belacan and eaten as a vegetable. The fern is traditionally consumed as 'ulam', or salad, in Bornean cuisine. Its taste has been compared to that of asparagus and research has shown that it is a promising source of antioxidants.

Furled fiddleheads

Sunda Pangolin

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

Flora & Fauna News

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Orania sylvicola: Native relicts or historical re-introductions?

Singapore has two populations of Orania sylvicola, found respectively in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. These locations are inconsistent with the historical collection localities from 1890s and 1930s, raising questions on the origin of the present-day populations. Through extensive research, involving genetic analyses, literature and herbarium collections review and topographical studies, NParks researchers concluded that all individuals in Singapore are of native origin. The two populations of Orania sylvicola in Singapore are distinct genetic clusters with very little gene flow either by pollen crossing or seed dispersal. Understanding the local population structure of these palms can guide species recovery efforts by identifying the most genetically diverse individuals for propagation and ex-situ conservation.
25 Jun, 2024

Rediscovery of Singapore Natives

Indian Abutilon (Abutilon indicum), a native shrub thought to be nationally extinct was rediscovered on Coney Island. Its subspecies, A. indicum subsp. indicum was found on Coney Island, an area predominated by Casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia) trees. Similarly, Cyperus dubius, a sedge rediscovered in various local coastal parks in 2022 was also found among Casuarina groves. Casuarina trees are known to release allelopathic compounds that inhibit seed germination, this poses a barrier for the survival of rare native species that share the same habitat. As such, conservative measures like selective replacement with non-allelopathic native species can potentially aid the survival and regeneration of these rediscovered Singapore natives.
16 May, 2024

Gesneriaceae Treasures - Vietnam’s Newest Finds

In recent years, several new species of flowering plants have been discovered in Vietnam, particularly in the far north and the Central Highlands region. Notably, four Gesneriaeae species have been uncovered, namely, lithophytic Allocheilos villosus with dense hairs covering on all parts of the plant, Didymocarpus tamdaoensis which is only known from one collection made at Tam Dao National Park, Didymocarpus dalatensis with downy stems and white tubular flowers, and Loxostigma vietnamensis which is endemic to the montane forest of Vietnam. These discoveries deepen our understanding of Vietnam’s rich biodiversity.
01 Apr, 2024