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Flora of Singapore – A revised checklist and bibliography

19 September 2022
For the first time in more than a decade, a comprehensive catalogue of the wild-growing plants in Singapore was published as part of the Flora of Singapore project. This publication was produced by a collective of researchers from around the world co-ordinated by NParks. The work highlighted the number of native, naturalised and casual plant species in Singapore and helped to clarify and opened discussions on taxonomic and nomenclatural issues, thereby shaping the future of local conservation efforts.

Rediscovery of Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea in Singapore

01 August 2022
Recent floristic surveys around Singapore have yielded interesting finds for the genus, Mucuna, including rediscoveries of previously thought to be extinct species like the Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea – A small population of this critically endangered vine, was rediscovered near the coast of the remote island, Pulau Brani, Singapore. This genus from the legume family is predominantly made up of lianas and known for the irritant hairs present on the surface of fruit pods. Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea was first described in the late 1900s and thought to be extinct due to habitat disturbances by land reclamation, until its rediscovery in 2018 . This has given researchers opportunity to thoroughly describe the species’ detailed characteristics, and allow collection of plant materials for propagation, with the aim of one day reintroducing the species into Singapore’s landscape.

The First of its Kind in Singapore

05 July 2022
On the northeastern coast of Singapore, a lush, 27 m tall tree in Changi has a unique identity. Using a combination of techniques – population genetics and morphological evidence, researchers from Singapore, UK and the US discovered that this tree is the first recorded natural hybrid between two critically endangered local species - Sindora coriacea and Sindora echinocalyx. It is also the first instance of hybridisation in the genus Sindora. Named Sindora × changiensis, after the location it was discovered to be growing, carbon dating estimated this tree to be at least 226 years old! Conservation efforts are ongoing to propagate this hybrid and saplings from this tree have been planted islandwide in Singapore.

Plants Can Soon Grow on the Moon!

26 May 2022
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.

Pollen-paper - An alternative and environmentally sustainable paper

04 May 2022
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.
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