Garcinia nigrolineata – The beaked kandis

This is a wild mangosteen in cultivation at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Mangosteens belong to the family Clusiaceae (or formerly Guttiferae).  Some characteristics:  Opposite leaves without stipules, yellowish sap, branches emerging almost at right angles to the trunk.  More curiously is the “beaked” end of the fruit.  The bark is quite dark and makes this plant very distinctive. 

It is native to Singapore.

 

Garcinia nigrolineata

Garcinia nigrolineata

 

Garcinia nigrolineata

 

Garcinia nigrolineata

 

Garcinia nigrolineata

Garcinia nigrolineata

Beautiful blue fruits of the Lasianthus shrub

Lasianthus attenuatus RUBIACEAE from Macritchie

Lasianthus attenuatus RUBIACEAE

Picture taken by Lim Cheng Puay, Sunday 20 Oct 2013

This is a shrub found in Macritchie.  It belongs to the coffee family Rubiaceae which has opposite leaves and interpetiolar stipules on either side of the stem.  The striking metallic blue fruit is a drupe (a fruit that is fleshy and surrounding a pit or stone which has a hard shell with a seed inside) and is crowned by the calyx which shows that the ovary is inferior.

It’s challenging to identify plants from a tropical rainforest as diverse as that found in Macritchie but knowing family characteristics can help narrow down the identity. Its a pity we don’t know the forests we have better as they are much more diverse than many forests elsewhere.  But the diversity can be overwhelming and limit our understanding if we do not try to get to know it better.

More pictures and info from the websites below:

http://floraofsingapore.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/lasianthus-attenuatus/  (Flora of Singapore)

http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=117649 (Flora of China)

http://wikis.wheatonma.edu/rainforest/index.php?title=Rubiaceae (Wiki page on Rainforest plants from Wheaton College, Norton MA.)

Biku biku – Bhesa paniculata

A common tree of secondary forests and primary swamp forests.  Here it is flowering in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, spectacularly.  The panicles of flowers are eye-catching and no wonder its other name is the Malayan spindle tree.  I wonder if these trees are from the original forest that was the gardens.  Plant family – Centroplacaceae

Bhesa paniculata

Bhesa paniculata

Bhesa paniculata 

Bhesa paniculata

The plant has characteristically long petioles that are swollen (looks like a knee) where it holds the leaf blade.

More about this plant at the following websites

http://florasingapura.com/Bhesa_paniculata.php

http://floraofsingapore.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/bhesa-paniculata/

 

Dyera costulata – the Jelutong

The jelutong is a very handsome tree.  Funnily enough Tony also says its “handsome” at Flora Singapura.  Then again, any big tree would be!  Here it is in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a few trees lining the path.  It belongs to the Apocynaceae and characteristically bears whorls of leaves and contain latex.  The tree looks a lot like Alstonia with its layered and pagoda like branching.  Its said to be light demanding, no wonder it regenerates easily in logged-over forests.  Its latex was used to make chewing gum in the past (1920s-1960s) and its a well known timber plant.

 

Dyera costulata, Apocynaceae

 

Dyera costulata, Apocynaceae

 

 

 

Dyera costulata, Apocynaceae

 

Oak trees in Macritchie

This is an oak tree in Macritchie.  We have about 18 species in 3 genera (Lithocarpus, Castanopsis and Quercus) and these trees are typified by their fruit which are acorns and chestnuts.  So the “kao luck” that we eat also comes from the genus Castanea in the same family – Fagaceae.    This one grows by the edge of the forest and is sitting precariously on a clayey mound of soil.  

Lithocarpus

Tony ODempsey spotted this as we were giving a guided walk to students keen to understand more about Macritchie.  If you look at the crown, it is covered with many spikes of flowers. 

Lithocarpus

The acorns from the last fruiting.  See more acorns from Singapore at Flora Singapura 

Lithocarpus

From the bark characteristics, the tree gives us a clue that it is a Lithocarpus species and from the size and shape of the acorn, this may be Lithocarpus bennetii with about 75% confidence.  A check at the herbarium at the Singapore Botanic Gardens will give us a more certain identity.

If you are interested in a free guided walk through Macritchie’s forests look up the Lovemacritchie walks page.

notes:  This page has been revised thanks to comments I have received.  It is hopefully more precise now.

Pinanga vs Nenga. Gems in our forests

 

This is Pinanga malaiana.  Shown here are the fruits which are arranged in two vertical rows on opposite sides of each bright red fruiting branch.DSC08405

And this palm below is Nenga pumila var pachystachya.  Shown here are the fruits which are spirally arranged along each pale colored fruiting branch.

DSC08025

 

Both are lovely understorey palms that are native to Singapore’s forests (which by the way are fragments that are in dire need of conservation).

 

 

 

A salak palm, once thought to be lost to Singapore…

Palms
Palms

This is Salacca affinis. It was thought to be extinct but I accidentally stumbled onto it while taking pictures of rattans. This local salak is a relative of the scaly buah salak that is eaten.

This salak is a palm of the peat swamps and has fronds that tower above our heads. At Nee Soon Swamp Forest, there is a cousin of this palm called Eleiodoxa conferta and looks much like it that dominates the wet swampy understorey. It was this other species that really caught my eye with its beautiful spines. See this picture.

Eleiodoxa conferta

This species can form a stand in the swamp and so it was really fortunate that I stumbled onto the salak. It was one among the many other Eleiodoxa palms in the swamp. The differences between the two are not apparent at first but the key thing is the arrangement of the lamina (leaf blades) of the fronds. Eleiodoxa has a flat frond due to the arrangment of the leaflets (so basically the leafs look like that of a coconut tree). Salacca affinis has a frond with clumped leaflets are regular intervals and the leaflets at each clump fan out. The spines also can be used to differentiate the two immediately. Eleiodoxa has those strikingly beautiful spines arranged like a comb around the leaf stalk.

Nee Soon Swamp is precious – things are still being discovered/rediscovered in this highly threatened habitat by the plant and animal research groups in NUS and NParks.

More details over here – Rediscovery in Singapore of Salacca affinis Griff. (Arecaceae). Nature in Singapore, 4: 123–126. [ PDF , 300 KB]

Accessible from volume 4 of Nature in Singapore: http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2011.html