Monday, August 20, 2012

Some city biodiversity in Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City is formerly known as Saigon prior to the Vietnam War which ended in 1975, but people still used the latter name frequently. This is a continuation of my previous post, showing some of the biodiversity which can be found here. The flora and fauna life listed here is certainly not exhaustive, as there are many which I did not feature here. It is just a matter of showing what I think are the more interesting ones in this post.


The city, just like Singapore is pretty abundant with mistletoes. Mistletoes are semi-parasitic plants that attached on its host tree and derive water and nutrients from it.


All of the mistletoes I saw seemed to be an unknown species of Dendrophthoe, which have yellow flowers. I was browsing through the Flora of Vietnam in the library the other day and I was unable to find a close identity. It doesn’t help that the book is in Vietnamese too…


Many of their cultivated tree species are also commonly planted in Singapore. An example is this Tanjong Tree, Mimusop elengi. I was trying to take a photo of the flowers when a bee decided to steal the limelight. :)


I must be quite ignorant because this is the first time I saw the Flame of the Forest tree (Delonix regia) fruiting with their large seed pods! I don’t think I have seen it in Singapore yet. But I guess they planted it more in this city then compared to Singapore, making it more obvious when the whole row of Delonix fruits.


This is one of the two larger parks which I visited near my hotel in District 1. It is a rather pleasant respite from the blazing sun. It is pretty quiet on a working day morning…


But during the weekends, many come for a jog or walk, and also play badminton and other sports.


At night, my friends brought me to another park to chit-chat. I was amazed to see it to be filled with people (mostly teenagers and young adults). They told me that it is always packed at night. What a big contrast with our parks here.


The next morning, I went to Tao Dan Park, beside the reunification palace. Two Ang Mohs were learning martial arts from a Vietnamese girl on the right. And I must say… they were pretty good at it!


Some of the trees are tagged. I doubt most park visitors were interested but it is definitely well appreciated by me.


I was rewarded with some interesting fauna life after lingering around the park looking up at the large trees. This is a Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata; thanks Ivan for the ID). It slithered quickly into a hole on the tree when I saw it.


I initially thought that this was a baby Plantain Squirrel that is very common in Singapore till I realised that the strips was at the wrong side.


There are four distinct white stripes on its back (compared to two on the Plantain Squirrel’s belly). It looked similar to the Himalayan Striped Squirrel (Tamiops macclellandi) but I can’t be sure since the IUCN only put its range in Vietnam as North Vietnam only.


I find this street (Truong Dinh Street) which cuts through the park quite aesthetic because of the tall pillars of Dipterocarps (Dipterocarpus alatus) flanking the roadside.


To my Vietnamese friends, the spinning dipterocarp fruits are already a common sight for them. But they are much revered for students of biology in Singapore (at least that is what I feel) since these primary forest species are few and very much threatened in our remaining forests.

After visiting a few Southeast Asian countries, I am of the opinion that Singapore probably put in the most resources in urban greening; hence deserving of the title of “Garden City”. However, Ho Chi Minh City also hold a special place in me because of its giant Dipterocap trees which have probably been here for a century.

Till we meet again, Vietnam!

 Related posts:

1) Giant trees of Ho Chi Minh City
2) Tree climbers in Ho Chi Minh City


Ivan said...

The Chrysopelea snake you saw was the golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata).

ts said...

Ohh, thanks :)

Unknown said...

is the mistletoe Helixanthera annamica?

ts said...

Hmm I duno~ I cant find any pictures online to compare

Sean Parker said...

Looking forward for more amazing posts like this one.
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Jason Martin said...

That bee and squirrel shots would be so hard to capture.
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