Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dipterocarp walk at MacRitchie Part 2

In this 2nd post of last Sunday’s walk, let me just recap back to the beginning about it, since I had left that out in my 1st post.

Organised by the Plant Group of NSS, I joined this walk in keen anticipation to learn more plants. Primary forest flora are definitely not my forte, so its great that this walk came along.


The crowd was much more than what I expected, but then this was the 1st plant walk I attended.


And I guess it is also because of Dr Shawn Lum’s undeniable charm.

After a brief introduction about some of the dipterocarp genera that we can see today, we headed into Lornie Trail.


The first species we saw was this Anisoptera megistocarpa. He mentioned that the secondary veins of this genus are looped at the margins, evident from the picture below.


Just for interest, the common name of this species is Mersawa merah.


The second dip we were introduced to was the Keruing gombang merah, or Dipterocarpus kunstleri. This genus have leaves that are wavy are the margins and bears some resemblance to a piece of corrugated cardboard.


He told us the sad story of an adult Dipterocarpus kunstleri which died. However, its presence is still marked its many small baby trees like the two above.


I had heard about the big stipules of Dips but I never knew they were this large! I believed that this one belonged to Dipterocarpus kunstleri. We can see them scattered throughout the forest floor around the tree.


Shorea species have a twisted petiole compared to the other dips. The one above shows Shorea ovalis, a member of the Red Meranti group. It is rough on the underside.


Managed to take a picture of the tree.


And branches.


This leaf belonged to Shorea macroptera, the underside of this is smooth and seems to have a distinct in-rolling along the margins.


This is Shorea pauciflora. Note the twisted petiole in all the 3 Shorea species.


The large trunk of Shorea pauciflora marks the end of our walk. I had missed out three species as I had no good photos of. Will do that another time when I come here another day.


It was really a nice morning walk with new knowledge gained. Luckily I was not that lazy that day to wake up early!

I have blogged about most of the species learnt during this walk in the total vascular of Singapore online, so that you may have a quick and easy search in case anyone need to refer. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dipterocarp walk at MacRitchie Part 1

Guess I can’t help to quickly sort out my pictures and blog before sleeping. This post is the first of two parts of a walk which I attended with NSS, led by Dr Shawn Lum. This first post shows mainly some interesting but non-dipterocarp plants which we saw along the way.


This climber is a fig, Ficus villosa. My first time seeing it out in the forest, but I guess its distinctive habit and shape gave it away.


I found this interesting flower on the forest floor which Dr Shawn said belonged to the family Apocynaceae. Just did a search on my book on this family and its long, narrow calyx lobes helps to narrow it to the genus Strophanthus, probably  Strophanthus caudatus, a critically endangered climber.


Isn’t this long spirally liana nice?


Dr Shawn told us that this peculiar rattan with spines on the leaflets is a new record in Singapore, and a resident rattan expert, AL is currently writing on it. Update: Plectocomiopsis geminiflora, watch out for this upcoming Nature in Singapore article about this new record.


This Rubiaceae is, as suggested by, Dr Shawn, a Hedyotis species. Will attempt to key this out another day. Please keep a lookout for updates here if you are interested. Update: Hedyotis congesta, now known as Oldenlandia cristata.


The young reddish fronds of a centipede fern, Blechnum species.


Somebody actually found the flowers of a native durian, Durio griffithii! The greyish back leaf also belongs to the durian.


VB picked this out and guessed it as a Heritiera species. Indeed, Dr Shawn confirmed it as Heritiera simplicifolia. It is related to the Dungun, Heritiera littorali, a mangrove tree that has a dorsal ‘fin’ on their fruits. Hence, they are also fondly known as the ‘ultramen’ fruits. Not sure whether this plant above has this character too~


During our walk back, VB and AN alerted us to the fruits of Garcinia griffithii. They are closely related to the mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana.


The branching of Garcinia species are pretty characteristic, with angular straight branches extending out from the trunk.

Okay, totally shag out now. Will blog about the diperocarps on the next post!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guided walk at St. John’s

Today was really a very busy and tiring day for me. I went to a NSS guided walk by Dr Shawn Lum at MacRitchie in the morning, before heading out to guide at St. John’s Island. I will blog about that former trip later since I will need more time to assimilate the information first. Guess this post also probably save my nature blog from turning into a 100% botanical blog. Ha~

Anyway, straight after the morning walk, I immediately headed back home, had my lunch and rushed out to Marina South Pier. Unfortunately, I overslept in the MRT and ended up having to take a cab from Tanjong Pagar. So much for me trying to save up after buying my DSLR and IPhone 4.

Above shows our participants listening attentively to Jun’s brief talk about this island. They are a group of  scouts from a secondary school in Clementi (Sorry for forgetting the name).

They were subsequently brought to the Tropical Marine Science Institute where ML guided them around the facilities.

Thereafter, I was ‘arrowed’ to do a last minute guide at the mangroves, of which I just quickly lead through, since the main attraction is at the intertidal shore.

During the shore walk, we split the group into two, and I was tasked to lead the guys. Here is my lovely assistant guide, Michelle, telling them more about the flower crab moult in her hand.

There were lots of acorn worms pushing hard to get the processed sand from their butt.

An definite attractive for them is this common sea star. Many Sea stars feed by pushing out their stomach and engulf its prey before bringing back in again. At least for this sea star, they are not predators but just feed on the detritus.

Our hunter seekers found this minuscule fish which I have totally no idea what it is. Apparently they also don’t but guess it just looks interesting to show. :P

Snapping shrimps are pretty common today. These animals have an enlarged pincer, and used that to fire a jet of shock wave to stun or kill their prey.

Well, its has been usual practice for me to forget taking enough photos to really give a comprehensive account for my participants to recap here. But I guess what was most important is that they enjoyed themselves, and I think they did. :)

It has been really quite a long long time since I last led a group for a nature walk (the last one was in March). A bit rusty but I think I still have some juice left in me to do a decent walk. Guess I do miss it terribly! And its always worth it to see the smiles of my participants enjoying the nature along with me.

Thanks to Jun for organising the walk~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to Alstonia penumatophora

This morning, upon the suggestion of A and the help of our ‘expedition leader’ KY, a group of 10 of us went on a botanical walk to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.


Here are some of us at the entrance of the trail which seems to be also a favourite for mountain bikers.


Because of the current North East monsoon, the heavy rain had caused the trail to be muddy and slippery, and also forming little puddles here and there. Luckily I had decided to wear my booties today.

The picture above shows, if I am not wrong, the prop roots of Syzygium lineatum. This feature is characteristic in waterlogged areas, though I have seen it with prop roots in dry areas before.


Though I have seen pitcher plants many times before, their pitchers always make a nice picture. This is one of the 3 species that can be found in Singapore, the slender pitcher, Nepenthes gracilis.


These scaly fruits belonged to a spiny rattan, probably Calamus or Daemonorops species.


D pointed out to this insignificant pool of mud, which on closer inspection has the footprints of a wild boar. So this is where they have their mud bath?


This bright hairy young leaves of this Elaeocarpus ferrugineus is so pretty!


The forest surrounding this clearing is a distinctly Adinandra belukar forest,


as shown by the dominant tree, the Tiup Tiup, or Adinandra dumosa. Its just too bad that we were too early to witness its flowering. Guess just have to make do with their buds.


KY found this interesting fruit which CK said to beong to the family Annonaceae.


We almost missed another fruiting rattan without the sharp eyes of CK. Cute?


This curious pandan has a super long drip tip!


The stop point of our journey is at this huge tree, Alstonia pneumatophora, which Tony kindly corrected our ID last time. Previously, because of the dry weather this portion was dry compared to now when it rain everyday. Though unfortunate as I was hoping to have a human scale there, the waterlogging enabled us to see what we thought are its penumatophores snaking around the tree (below).


Having a DSLR definitely helps in getting better quality pictures but its a pity that I didn’t check my photos as many of them were focused wrongly. Something which I will learn and overcome with time. ^^

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online

I think that some of you, especially plant lovers might have notice this recent wordpress blog. It has been my intention to write a short post introducing it but I had delayed it till now, when the number of species have gained a substantial number, just over 500 species. As A had appropriately put it, our first milestone has reached. =)

This blog is the brainchild of KY, and a spin-off from his recent publication, “A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species”. So far, KY, A and I have been contributing to it.


Basically, each blog post contains information about a particular plant species. Eventually, they will contain their name, synonyms, statuses, vegetative and ecological characters, distribution and other information, like in our first two entries, Synogonium podophyllum, and Nypa fruticans. However, it is not an easy task to do the write-ups for every species; so for now, we are only uploading pictures and some basic information.

A big part of this blog are the pictures of the plants to help in identifying them. We have included, beneath each photo, the location, habitat and year when the plant was taken as a record. Short captions are also provided if you hover your mouse over each picture. Note that you have to disable the automatic preview mode first.

To facilitate easier browsing, one can search the index in alphabetical order, browse by their taxonomic groups (please read the page phylogenetic classification to see how the species are classified), or just simply type in the name in the search bar.

We have also included some useful links. Firstly, the Flora links some of the plant descriptions in their stated region. Two of the links, i.e. Flora Malesiana and Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak gives free PDF versions of their Flora. The rest are online resources where you can view their descriptions directly.


Secondly, the Pictures links some credible and easy to use, pictorial websites of local and region plants. The Plant Observatory, hosted by KH is probably the most comprehensive in terms of the number and range of pictures for each species. Next is the Plants of Southeast Asia, which in addition, provides descriptions. And of course, Joesph Lai’s companion guide to wayside trees of Malaya. Do check them out too.


This blog is still at its infant stage despite having about 1/8? of the total plant species in Singapore. This is because as mentioned, the lack of vegetative descriptions and other information. Not all species covered have comprehensive photos covering their defining features because of the lack in photos. However, since this is an on-going project, it will only get better with new pictures and information continuously being added, and old, blurred pictures replaced.

Of course, this blog is not possible without the help of many contributors who have helped directly or indirectly in helping to identify the plants and contribute photos. Unfortunately, we have not added them in the Acknowledgements page yet, will get to it soon. If you want to help in anyway, please tell us if have any suggestions, or spot any wrong identifications or information. Even better, you can help by contributing your quality photos. =)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First field trip with my new camera

I decided at the last minute to head out to the central catchment nature reserve today. Waiting at home for the army to call us up really makes weekend planning difficult…

And as my title says, I got a DSLR camera after the longest time! Still need to get use to the weight and the difficulty of taking pictures with one hand…


A noctuid moth, probably Spirama retorta.


The outer fruit covering of Adenia macrophylla. The curly threads are attached to the seeds, so that they hang out to attract birds.


A Ficus species which I duno the ID.


A Calophyllum species which have this hard lump (stipule?) on it.


I found this hairy fruit scattered all over the ground.


They belong to this tree, Commersonia bartramia.


Several individuals of Clerodendrum deflexum were fruiting gregariously.


Found the developing of another unknown plant.


And these are the leaves of it.


A Lascar, Lasippa sp. was totally engrossed in puddling that I was able to go close enough to get this shot.

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