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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
Thysanolaena latifolia

Plant ofthe Month

Thysanolaena latifolia

Thysanolaena latifolia or Tiger Grass has long leathery leaves that can reach up to 65 cm in length. These leaves are one of many species used to wrap glutinous rice dumplings or Zongzi (in Chinese), which are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. The leaves of Tiger Grass are reported to have antiseptic properties that help to extend the shelf-life of rice dumplings in warm and humid conditions.

Sunda Slow Loris

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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Artemisia vulgaris

Multi-tasking Mugwort

Did you know Artemisia vulgaris, or the Common Mugwort, is a herb with a multitude of ethnobotanical uses? The leaves are aromatic yet bitter tasting and can be consumed fresh or cooked. In Japan and Korea, the leaves are cooked with fish and meat to mask strong odours and used as a colouring agent in rice dumplings. In traditional Asian medicine, the stems, leaves and flowers are prepared and used as sedatives or appetite stimulants.

Multi-tasking Mugwort
Citrus medica

Finger-licking Citrus peels

Besides its unusual appearance, did you know the fruit of Citrus medica or Fingered Citron makes excellent zest? The Fingered Citron has extremely thick peels that makes up most of the fruit. Its rind is rough and has a bumpy texture, but is fragrant and lacks the bitterness commonly found in lemon and orange peels. This citrus fruit is a great alternative in recipes calling for lemon or orange zest. The zest can also be diced and cooked in sugar water to make candied fruit, perfect for snacking!

Finger-licking Citrus peels
Ocimum basilicum

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
Flacourtia inermis

Jams, syrups, and pies

Did you know that the fruit of Flacourtia inermis or Rukam masam can be made into great jams? The tree produces plenty of round berries that turn deep scarlet when ripe. These are usually not eaten raw because of its sharp, sour taste. However, when processed with sugar, they are transformed into delicious jams, chutneys, syrups, and even pies! You can spot this species along streets, parks or gardens adorned with young red leaves and sometimes laden with red fruit.

Jams, syrups, and pies
Aristolochia acuminata

A Pipe’s Trap

Did you know the Aristolochia acuminata (Dutchman’s Pipe) can trap pollinating insects in its flower? This woody climber produces small pipe-like flowers, specially modified to attract and trap unsuspecting pollinating insects like fruit flies. The trap works when the insect slides down the slippery and hairy tube of a fresh flower that opens in an upright position. As the insect feeds on the nectar or attempts to escape, it is dusted in pollen, and its movements pollinate the flower. After fertilisation, the flower starts to wilt and tilt downwards, providing an escape route for the trapped insects.

Dutchman’s Pipe
Corypha umbraculifera

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

Sunda Slow Loris

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

Flora & Fauna News

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The Beginnings of Plant Life on Land

Researchers in France found that 450 million years ago, plants moved from the aquatic to terrestrial environment with the help of fungi. The team demonstrated that the non-vascular bryophyte (Marchantia paleacea) possessed genes that facilitated the sharing of resources like lipids with fungi, very much like the symbiotic relationships present day vascular plants have with fungi. This suggests that the common ancestor of vascular and non-vascular plants also had similar genes that allowed the transfer of resources which eventually led to the successful colonisation of land.

31 May, 2021

Coffee boosts forestation

Scientists from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii found that coffee pulp sped up restoration of exploited land in tropical regions. A post-agricultural plot in Costa Rica covered with 50 cm-thick layer of coffee pulp, the leftover of coffee production that are typically discarded, was transformed into a small forest with pioneer tree species after two years. The coffee-boosted plot had 60% more canopy cover by trees that are 4 times taller than those in the non-treated control plot. The coffee pulp treated topsoil was rich in Carbon and Nitrogen, and the amount of Sulphur, Phosphorus, Iron and Manganese were much higher than the control plot.

30 Apr, 2021

Talking with plants

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University have found an innovative way to communicate with plants through electrical signals. The Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant that traps insects by shutting its modified leaves when prey touch trigger hairs. Researchers were able to use electrical impulses to close the leaf trap and even ‘pick up’ a thin wire using a connected robotic arm on command! This was done by connecting the leaf trap to a smartphone via an electrode. As electrical signals generated by plants tend to be weak, the discovery of a novel hydrogel with strong adhesive properties was key to making this type of communication with the plant possible. As researchers deepen their understanding, they hope to develop plant-based robotic systems that can better handle delicate and sensitive tasks than the current technology.

14 Apr, 2021
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