Plant ofthe Month
Oryza sativa L.
Rice is a widely cultivated staple in Asia. During Hindu festivals such as Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, rice grains are ground into powder, dyed in a variety of colours from blue to pink and used to create intricate designs on the ground called Rangoli. Besides being beautiful to look at, the rice paste is also traditionally an offering to small creatures like ants and sparrows to encourage harmonious coexistence.
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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Breathing in the mud
Did you know the conical structures sticking out of the soil at the base of some plants help plants breathe? These specialised root structures are known as pneumatophores and are usually seen in mangrove species. Sonneratia caseolaris (Crabapple Mangrove), a mangrove species, develops pneumatophores that protrude out of the soil allowing root respiration in the anaerobic muddy soil. When growing on well-drained soil, the plant may not produce as many pneumatophores as there is little need for assistance in aboveground respiration. In some parts of Southeast Asia, the pneumatophores are harvested and used as corks or fishing-floats when dried.Sonneratia caseolaris
Record Breaking Pumpkin
Did you know the heaviest pumpkin grown in Singapore weighs 5.9 kilograms. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital set this record during the Community Garden Edibles Competition held in 2019. It is easy to cultivate pumpkins in Singapore under full sun with regular watering and fertilising. Who knows? You might be the next record holder!Pumpkin
Superfood Elephant Foot Yam
Did you know the Elephant Foot Yam is a superfood? Its starchy tuber is rich in minerals such as calcium and phosphorous. While the tubers of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius are commonly used in curries of Asian cuisines, the leafy parts are cooked as vegetables. The plant produces only one large leaf each time, and the unique inflorescence emits an odour that attracts pollinators like flies and beetles.1659
Drosera paradoxa (Sundew) falls under the largest genus of the carnivorous plants – Droseraceae. Despite the lack of a physical trap like the Venus fly trap, the Sundew attracts insects with nectar and its brightly colored tentacle-like structures. The Sundew responds to the presence of prey on its sticky specialised leaves by catapulting its tentacles towards the center of the leaf. The sticky tentacles contain digestive enzymes that slowly digest prey, leaving only the exoskeleton. Researchers reported that once the tentacles have flung inwards, they cannot be unwound or used again. Fortunately, many new leaves are produced every few days so the Sundew can set new traps for unsuspecting insects. Click on the button below to learn more.Drosera paradoxa
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
Video of wild Sunda Pangolin in Singapore, captured on Night Vision Equipment.
Flora & Fauna NewsView All
The Sahara Desert has millions of trees!
A recent analysis of a database of satellite images using artificial intelligence revealed that there are over 1.8 billion trees and shrubs with a crown size more than 3 square metres in size across a 1.3 million square kilometre area of West Africa and Sahel. The analysis also allows scientists to determine how much carbon is stored in deserts, a factor that is not currently included when modelling for climate change related research.05 Nov, 2020
Japanese farmers may benefit from rising global temperatures
Rising global temperatures have extended the growing season in Southern Japan, making two rice crops possible through a farming technique known as rice rattooning. In this technique, the first crop is harvested, and the stubble allowed to grow back to form a second crop. Researchers found that after harvesting the first crop and cutting the plants at a high height for regrowth as a second crop resulted in 3-fold higher rice yield compared to traditional farming methods.07 Sep, 2020
'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