Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers

Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 1

Have you noticed our streetscapes getting prettier and more colourful? All across our island, the greenery alongside our roads has been enhanced, often with the planting of flowering shrubs. But how many can you recognise? Learn more about these pretty roadside flowers in our City in a Garden.    

1. Ixora cultivars

Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 2
Photo credit: Jason Yong

One of the most common flowering plants in Singapore, the Ixora plant grows best in full sun or semi-shade, and can grow up to 3 m tall. The various cultivars produce large, dense clusters of flowers that come in many colours including orange, red, yellow, white and pink. Not only is it a beautiful plant, it is food for our caterpillars and butterflies such as the Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus) pictured above. 

2. Golden Bells (Tecoma stans)
Tecoma stans
Photo credit: Lee Jia Hwa

The bells are ringing, the song they’re singing… The Golden Bells plant can indeed brighten up your day with its fragrant, bright yellow tubular flowers! The flowers are known to attract bees, butterflies and sunbirds for their sweet nectar while its papery and winged seeds are dispersed by wind after the fruit splits open when ripe.

A shrub that can grow up to 2.5 m tall, it prefers full sunlight and well-drained soil. However, it is also able to tolerate dry soil and drought, making it a plant well suitable for our roadsides.
3. Red Tree-Vine (Leea rubra)

Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 4
Photo credit: Jason Yong

The Red Tree-Vine is a beautiful shrub that can grow up to 3 m and is suitable for planting along our streetscapes. Apart from enhancing the landscape with its bright red flowers that have a yellow central disc, these flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects as well. As the insects feed on the flowers, they help with pollination. 

The fruits that turn dark red or purple when ripe are also favourites of birds and other small mammals. So, as you are admiring the Red Tree-Vine, do not forget to look out for these animals and insects as well! 

4. Pigeon Orchid (Dendrobium crumenatum)

Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 5
Photo credit: Patricia Yap

Usually found in semi-deciduous and deciduous dry lowland forests, this native epiphytic orchid is fast growing and evergreen. The fragrant flowers are white with a yellow tinted throat. A fast-growing plant, the Pigeon Orchid prefers semi-shade or full sun conditions with little water, and can tolerate dry soils and drought conditions as well. 

Spot a flowering pigeon orchid on one of our roadside trees and you may notice that its flower buds resemble pigeons, which is how it acquired its common name. Be sure to quickly snap a photo, as these flowers last for less than a day! 

5. Lantana (Lantana camara ‘cultivars’)
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 6
Photo credit: Lee Jia Hwa

The Lantana is an evergreen shrub that flowers best under full sun. When it blooms, the brightly coloured and fragrant flowers adorn the entire shrub in abundant, rounded clusters known as umbels. The flowers of the different cultivars of the Lantana come in different shades, including bright red to orange, bright yellow to pink, and bright orange to red that eventually fades to pink. 

But it is not just a pretty shrub, it is a nectar and host plant for butterflies and caterpillars too! The Lantana is easy to grow and fast growing. After it has established, the plant can thrive even under poor conditions such as drought and nutrients-poor soil. 

6. Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex)
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 7
Photo credit: Boo Chih Min

The Mexican Petunia is a relatively short plant that tends to grow straight upwards. Standing at typically about 1 m in height, its purple tubular flowers can be found at the tips of the shoots, immediately catching your eye as you stroll along the roadsides. 

Lean in closer and you will notice that even its narrow leaves have distinct purple veins. This shrub can tolerate waterlogged soils as well as drought conditions, perfect for Singapore’s weather conditions. 

8. Peacock Flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 8
Photo credit: Lee Jia Hwa

With its showy flowers in combinations of orange, yellow and red, coupled with its long and elegant-looking stamens and pistils, this woody shrub beautifies our roadsides as it flowers throughout the year. Keep it under full sunlight to enjoy the Peacock Flower plant at its maximum bloom, and admire the bees and butterflies that are attracted to it. 

This evergreen shrub is easy to grow and fast growing. Typically, an upright shrub, the plant is able to get up to 3 to 6 m tall, just about the height of a small tree. 

9. Crepe Myrtle Cultivars (Lagerstroemia indica
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 9
Photo credit: Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh

You will not miss spotting a Crepe Myrtle shrub as it is a large woody shrub with inflorescence, showy flowers that can be light pink, pale pink or rose pink in colour. It typically has a vase-shaped crown, but pruning is required occasionally to remove its dense branches and help it develop strong structure. 

This free flowering shrub prefers full sun with little to moderate watering, and is well able to tolerate dry conditions once established.   

10. Pinwheel Flower (Tabernaemontana divaricata) 
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 10
Photo credit: Lee Jia Hwa

You might have guessed it - the Pinwheel Flower plant has flowers that are shaped like pinwheels, that kids’ toy designed to spin when the wind blows! And these five-petaled flowers do indeed look like they’re spinning in the wind due to the twist of its petal tips towards the left, in a counter clockwise direction. 

White and fragrant, these flowers stand out amongst the dark green and glossy leaves that have a waxy leaf margin. This whimsical-looking shrub can grow up to 2 m tall, growing well under full sun or semi shade, and only needs moderate amounts of water. 

10. Powder Puff Plant (Calliandra surinamensis) 
Recognising Ten Streetside Flowers 11
Photo credit: Lee Jia Hwa

The genus Calliandra means beautiful stamens and refers to the numerous stamens found on the flower of the Powder Puff Plant. The stamens are almost entirely light pink in colour, but white on the lower ends. This is probably what gave rise to its common name, alluding to the puffs used for applying rouge powder to the skin. The flowers themselves are borne in clusters, also known as an inflorescence. 

This fast growing and evergreen shrub has low branching and can grow up to 5 to 6 m tall. It prefers full sun or semi-shade with moderate amounts of water. 

What else will you discover on our roadsides?
Now that you know more about these ten commonly found plants, try to spot them along our streetscapes. Stop and smell the flowers often and you may discover other fascinating flora and fauna as well! Do share any beautiful blooms you spot along our roads by using the hashtag #sgblooms or #sgblooms2020 in your social media posts.
To learn more about these and other interesting plants, check out NParks Flora&FaunaWeb, which features cultivated and native plants, as well as a variety of animal life sighted in our parks and nature spaces.

Get up close and personal with some of the trees on our island by going on a walking or cycling trail in our parks, gardens and park connectors. Besides admiring the trees, you can also potentially spot biodiversity. Lean more about going on a DIY walk.

Read more about the Bougainvillea in the article here

Read more about eight common streetside trees here.

Text by Judith Soh
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