28 March 2009

Blooming mangroves at Sungei Buloh

There were lots of special blooms at Sungei Buloh today. They were quite distracting: I was supposed to look for spiders!
The beautiful Tui or Mangrove trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea) had one single white flower! The flowers in the cluster bloom one at a time and according to Corners "very fragrant" while Tomlinson describes it as "a pervasive scent".

According to Hsuan Keng, the flower opens in the early morning and closes at noon, but according to Corners, it blooms at dusk and the flower drops off at sunrise or earlier, while Tomlinson says they bloom in the early evening and the flower usually lasts for only one day. This tree is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore. So it's good to see a happy healthy tree at Sungei Buloh. More about the strange fruits of this tree at my previous trip to Sungei Buloh.

Another special mangrove tree is the Dungun (Heritiera littoralis). Corners describes it as a 'dinghy' tree, which is its general impression. A rather untidy tree with rather scruffy looking leaves that are green above but silvery bronzey underneath. This is because of overlapping stare-shaped scales on the underside.
Today, there was one Dungun tree blooming at the Mangrove Arboretum! The flowers are tiny hairy and pinkish cups in clusters.There were lots of Weaver ants near the flowering bunches. It is not known what pollinates these trees, do the ants have a role in this? So much yet to learn about our mangroves. This tree is listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore. Fortunately, there are still several of these trees at our northern mangroves.

Mangrove flowers are not always spectacular and colourful. The Ant-house plant (Dischidia sp.) draped the trees at the Mangrove Arboretum in curtains. And some of them were flowering!These plants have odd inflated leaves to house ants! More about this plant on my trip to Pulau Semakau with Dr Jean Yong. Several of our Dischia species are listed as 'Nationally Extinct' or 'Critically Endangered' on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

The Common derris (Derris trifoliata) is still very common in our mangroves. A climber that scrambles over trees and bushes in the back mangroves, many of them were blooming!The pretty flowers attract equally pretty butterflies. Alas, I'm not as good at taking photos of these insects as the Butterfly Circle guys are. And I have no idea what they are either.

Another typical climber of the back mangroves and coastal areas is Rotan tikus (Flagellaria indica). It has long grass-like leaves that are narrow with a curling tip that winds around other plants.
And today, a bunch of them were flowering! This is my first time seeing the flowers!The flowers eventually turn into green round fruits, that ripen a lovely pinkish red. What a delightful plant!

This shrub with a bunch of tiny little white flowers is sometimes seen on our coastal areas.
I have no idea what it is. It might be Polyscias macgillivrayi? (Bian Tan has informed that this plant is Premna corymbosa. Thanks Bian!)
While I was photographing the plant, a little wasp-like creature with a bright yellow head and thick yellow antennae poked its head into the flowers!

Sometimes, flowers are not so obvious.
These are the flowers of a grass (I don't know which kind). They are tiny and wind dispersed so they have dangly bits.

I also saw lots of spiders, which was the whole purpose of this trip.

It's fun exploring our wild shores even when the tide is not low. Tomorrow, the spring low tides begin, and it's time to get the booties wet again!

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