27 January 2009

Northern mangroves of Pulau Ubin

On a cloudy solar eclipse day, Chay Hoon and I decided to check out the Northern mangroves. The sun-dappled forest trail was teeming with butterflies of all kinds.

We passed a submerged freshwater forest. And soon reached the mangroves near Ubin's northern shores!
The mangroves formed a kind of island, with tall trees in the middle and ringed with shorter trees and tough clusters of some sort of grass-like plants.There were a lot of these short mangrove trees with yellow leaves.Those we examined turned out to be Bruguiera cylindrica.Chay Hoon spots this really short Ceriops which was already producing propagules! The fruits were textured in some, especially the smaller propagules. But the textures seem less obvious in old propagules. I'm not really sure what kind of Ceriops this is. How exciting!The shores in the North are ringed by the Ubin fence, so we can't get out to the shore. In any case, it was hot and the tide wasn't very low. But there is a large expanse of shore outside the fence.Just behind the fence, on the sandy, rocky shore, we saw this beautiful Xylocarpus granatum, with the characteristic peeling bark.It had snaky buttress roots.And big brown cannon-ball shaped fruits.

But here's a strange Xylocarpus that was tucked among other mangrove trees on the sandy shore.It had fissured bark, and didn't have buttress roots. Nor any pneumatophores either.Compared with the Xylocarpus granatum's brown cannon-ball fruits, this mystery Xylocarpus had small fruits that were green and reminded me of mangos.Here's another fruit from the mystery Xylocarpus.And further down, yet another Xylocarpus. It had no fruits. But the bark was kind of peeling, and it had large plank-like buttress roots so it might be Xylocarpus granatum too.Right on the most seaward edge near the fence in a large Rhizophora tree, was another humungous wasp nest!! I could see some of the wasps lazily moving about near the nest. Wow, again I wished John was with us.We only did a small portion of the mangroves of Pulau Ubin and should try to make more time to explore them more thoroughly.

By the way, we didn't really notice the solar eclipse. It was cloudy, and at one point, the sun seemed less hot. Which was nice, but we couldn't really see any special effects in the sky.


  1. Happy Lunar New Year to you!

    The Ceriops is indeed C. zippeliana. The morphological variation is due to the extreme sun conditions that the tree is exposed to. C. zippeliana normally grows in deep shade.

    The "strange" Xylocarpus is X. moluccensis. The fissured bark is the main clue, while the smaller cannonball fruit is also typical for this much rarer Xylocarpus species. On sandy shore, the peg-like pneumatophore of X. moluccensis is often not developed. Along S. Besear in P. Ubin, the X. moluccensis trees do produce very nice pneumatophores along the muddy river!

  2. Wow, thanks Dr Jean, once again for taking the time to sort out our strange encounters. We're learning so much from you!



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