Plant ofthe Month
Luffa cylindrica M. Roem.
There are no gourds like the Sponge Gourd! Not only can the young tasty fruit be cooked and eaten, the fibrous mature fruit can be used as a natural sponge. The high shock and water absorbency of these fibres allow for its infinite use, ranging from general cleaning, cosmetics, biofilters to machinery insulation.
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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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
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
Commonly known as Butterfly Pea plant, the flowers of Clitoria ternatea is one of the key ingredient for the colour changing drink which is taking over the world by storm. Dried flowers are boiled to produce a blue solution, and it changes to purple when lemon juice is added! In traditional Peranakan culture, the blue pigment is also used for popular dessert like Kueh Salat. Butterfly Pea plant is widely cultivated in home gardens and the roots can improve soil quality by fixing nitrogen. Click on the button to learn more.Clitoria ternatea
The Happiness Tree (Garcinia subelliptica) is a common sight in the rural landscapes of Okinawa, Japan. The tree’s hard, dense wood can withstand fire and physical stresses from strong winds and are often planted in gardens to provide a barrier for houses from fire and destructive typhoons. The tree’s evergreen, thick glossy leaves also provide shade from the relentless sun. In that sense, the Happiness Tree brings joy by protecting families from natural disasters like fires and typhoons supporting a happy family lifeGarcinia subelliptica
Did you know that the Traveller’s Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) is not a true palm? It belongs to the Strelitziaceae family and it is a close relative to the Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae). Native to Madagascar, the Traveller’s Palm is popular in tropical landscape because of its enormous leaves which are arranged in a fan shape. It produces big, erect inflorescence like that of Heliconias. However, it seldom blooms in Singapore due to the wet weather. Its fruit are brown capsules, enclosing numerous seeds covered with bright blue arils.Ravenala madagascariensis
The Gelam Tree
Do you know that Kampong Glam derived its name from the gelam tree (Melaleuca cajuputi)? Kampong Glam was named after the gelam trees that were growing or planted in the area. ‘Kampong’ refers to village in Malay and ‘Glam’ (or ‘gelam’) is the common name for the tree Melaleuca cajuputi, a tree from the myrtle family (Myrtaceae). This tree has a distinct papery bark and has many medicinal uses. Kampong Glam used to be just by the sea and the gelam tree had many practical uses for boat building by the Bugis sailors! Although the gelam tree is extinct from the wild in Singapore, it still widely planted and cultivated in the urban areas of Singapore. You can even see some fine specimens planted in Kampong Glam!The Gelam Tree
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
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
Plant diversity in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Over the years, biodiversity surveys have been done in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) to document Singapore’s green treasures. 1250 plant species have since been recorded in BTNR (Ho, B.C. et al. 2019) in Singapore’s first Nature Reserve and researchers continue to find species new to science, species previously unknown in Singapore, and species thought to be extinct. Click here to read more about the latest flora survey results.05 Sep, 2019
Trees Keep Cities Cool
The cooling effect of a small forest in the city has the profound effect of cooling the environment. Summer daytime temperatures can be lowered by 3.4 degrees Celsius. Hard city surfaces take in heat from the sun in the day and gradually give off the heat in the night. Trees however not only shade those surfaces, they also release water into the air through transpiration, cooling the surroundings. The study showed that for maximum cooling benefit, the tree canopy cover must be greater than 40 percent of an area. This information is useful for city planners to develop more livable neighbourhoods.22 Jul, 2019