14 June 2009

Mangroves at Noordin Beach, Pulau Ubin

Among the first stunning finds at this remote corner on Pulau Ubin was a nice tall Bakau mata buaya tree (Bruguiera hainesii)!
It had lots of flowers and one developing propagule (that was low enough for us to photograph).

There were some fallen petal rings on the ground, so it was a good chance to take a closer look at them. The petals look like larger versions of the more common Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica)
This time I remembered to look more closely at the tree trunk. This particular tree doesn't seem to have specialised roots like knee roots or big buttress roots. The bark had some pimply bumps (called lenticels) particularly near the bottom of the trunk. But elsewhere it seemed quite smooth.
Another special find was the propagules of the Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora) on the sandy shore. I understand there are lots of these trees in the mangroves of Ubin, so these might have floated out from the mother trees deeper in the mangroves.
In the brief foray into the mangrovey parts, we also saw both kinds of Ceriops. Tengar putih (Ceriops tagal) has a white collar around the propagule, and the fruit is smooth.
While Tengah merah (Ceriops zippeliana) has a red collar around the propagule and the fruit has a texture. Thanks to Dr John Yong for sharing these details about our mangroves.
Marcus also found the Mangrove wax plant, and it looks like Hoya verticillata.
Other interesting plants seen included lots of Dungun (Heretiera sp.), Mangrove cannon-ball trees (Xylocarpus grantum) and of course all our favourite common mangrove trees.

Some parts of the mangroves near Noordin Beach have lots of mudlobster mounds, with many regular large holes in them. I wonder what lives in them? Liana is taking lots of photos of insects. Can't wait to hear what she discovered. The mangroves are quite extensive, with lots of soft muddy parts.
I didn't feel like squishing through mud so I stayed on the beach side, which was quite lovely. Carpeted with sea shore morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) above the high water mark, and lined by lush mangrove trees and plants.
The area was a buzz with bees and other insects busy among the flowers in the hot sun. Among the special trees were these pretty Chengam bushes (Sciphyphora hydrophyllacea).
A little further along, on the sandy beach were several large and old Api api trees, and they were blooming! The Api-api bulu (Avicennia rumphiana) has furry leaves and fruits. The little yellow flowers are small and appear in tight clusters.
Api-api ludat (Avicennia officinalis) is not as common as our other Api-api species. It has smooth shiny leaves, the flowers are much larger while the fruits are not as wrinkly as those of Api-api bulu.
Walking back, I checked out the strand line and noticed lots of tiny dead sea urchins. Oh dear. I wonder whether this is just a natural seasonal cycle thing.
Also on the shores were many different kinds of propagules. Mangroves disperse to new shores as their propagules float away with the tides.
From top to bottom: Rhizophora mucronata - a humungously long propagule with large fruit; Rhizophora stylosa - smaller fruit and shorter propagule; Ceriops tagal - fruit is smooth; Ceriops zippeliana - fruit is textured; two propagules of Bruguiera parviflora with the tiny sepals clasping the propagule; two propagules of Bruiguiera cylindrica with the sepals bending backwards away from the propagule; Bruguiera gymnorrhiza - fat cigar-like propagule with red sepals.

Unfortunately, what also washes up is marine litter. This is not only unsightly, but also dangerous to marine life as some marine animals mistake these for their food or they get entangled and trapped in the litter. Also, when marine litter is removed, propagules and other naturally dispersing plants and animals are also destroyed. More about marine litter.
Then there were extremely large trash on the shore that could not have come in through the fence. How did these end up on the shore?
The cliffs on the eastern side of Noordin Beach seems to be experiencing serious erosion. With many fallen trees on the shore.
Nature heals all wounds, and various pioneer plants are cloaking the bare cliff sides.

As we were walking back through the forest, I came across this lovely shrub with little white flowers glittering in the gloom.
The fountains of pretty whiskery flowers look like falling stars. And it had little round fruits with a bright red spiky cap of sepals.
It's probably some kind of Clerodendron. Wow, there sure is a lot to see on Pulau Ubin.

As we drove back, we passed another stretch of mangroves which we should find time to explore. Pulau Ubin is indeed a special place for wild stuff.

More about Pulau Ubin.


  1. hi Ria, saw U & ur team depart when i arrived at Changi jetty. Did you all finish before the heavy rain hits Ubin? We managed to reach for shelter just before it started to rain heavily.

  2. Oh what a shame we missed seeing you. Yes, we were on our way home by the time it poured. Hope you still had a good trip despite the weather. At least it was cooler?

  3. yes! we have some nice photos too!



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