08 November 2008

Phallic flower on a lazy stroll at Pulau Ubin

A late morning stroll at Pulau Ubin with friends, what a fabulous treat! After a quick fix of Ubin mee siam, we headed off for the Sensory Trail.
Pulau Ubin is our last unspoilt laid back 'kampung' island. With an odd mix of ritual and relaxation. Here's a view of the mainland from the shore just next to Ubin Jetty.
One of the many shrines that dot the island, in the background, the Ubin Jetty with busy little bum boats dropping off daytrippers.I was out with Grant Pereira and Grace and friends of GVN for a lazy stroll of the Sensory Trail. Gosh, the Trail has grown really lush since the last time I visited, which alas, was many years ago. The lush fragrance of Pandan greets us at the entrance of the Trail which winds under shady trees.Among the amazing encounters was this enormous flower next to the Elephant Yam. So it's probably the Elephant Yam flower right? A quick check on the internet confirms that it is!
The flower does indeed have elements of its highly suggestive scientific name Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.The male flowers on the upper portion of the central stem are dusted in golden pollen. While the white female flowers are below. According to a blog post about this plant in the Garden Voices blog, the flower is supposed to stink like rotting fish, which attracts pollinating flies. But we didn't smell anything at this flower.

The Sensory Trail is festooned with all manner of strange and amazing plants and vegetables.
Grant pointed out the red hairy fruits of the Lipstick Tree (Bixa orellana). What an intriguing name. He proceeded to illustrate the reason for the common name of this plant.If you crush the seeds, it produces a bright red dye which can be applied to hair, face and other purposes! Wow!I also got excited over the coffee plant (the short tree on the right in the photo above).Here's the fruits of the coffee and we hunted for a long while before we found some flowers.These had fallen to the ground already. Grace shared that she once came across lots while they were still on the branch and the blossoms had a heady scent of jasmine!
The vegetation was full of life! Little spiders and bugs skulked in shady spots. The sunny places were busy with butterflies.There was a spot in the trail deep in fallen leaves. And we realised these must have all fallen from the large tree which had not a single leaf left on its branches! What has happened? We don't know.
Leaving the Sensory Trail, we wandered through mangroves with mud lobster mounds, strange trees, giant mudskippers; and coconut plantations with huge termite mounds, next to ponds with water lilies and strange freshwater plants. We also saw a male and female Koel, and had a quick look at the Hornbill nesting box.

The Sensory Trail is indeed a great introduction to the outdoors for all the senses. Grant Pereira conducts guided walks at the Trail. Do contact him at grant@singapore.com if you'd like to organise a walk with him. You won't be disappointed!


  1. wasn't it a great day for a walk! maybe we'll get to do it again soon :)

  2. That elephant yam flower is simply BEAUTIFUL.


  3. Yes, it was great Jaki! With such fun company and amazing wildness and a great lunch afterwards, I haven't had such a nice outing in a long while.

    You would have loved it Chai! Jungle untamed plus bizarre giant flower! Perhaps on your next trip here, we could explore Ubin again. Looking forward to that.



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