13 September 2009

Wild party at the Heritiera trees

Described by Corners as a 'dinghy' tree, the Endangered Dungun tree (Heritiera littoralis) is often overlooked.
But today, they were blooming at Kranji Nature Trail!

And don't the tiny pink fuzzy bell-shaped flowers look so cute. Especially on fresh green leaves. Another tree a little further down the trail also had flowers. But its flowers were mostly a dull brown and seemed to have done with blossoming.
However, I noticed a constant buzzing in this tree with the spent flowers. A closer look and I realised the tree was covered with lots and lots of these flies with big red eyes. And as I looked more closely, OTHER insects too. Like the tiny little brown critter in the photo on the left.
There were also tiny ants and other creatures unidentified (and unseen until I got home to process the photos). In addition, there were a couple of large wasps that were zooming around too rapidly for me to shoot.
AND there were also lots of little spiders of all kinds everywhere. In fact, the flowers that had dropped off were still strung up together by the webs spun by these spiders on the flower spikes!
There were spiders clambering about on the flowers and elsewhere on the tree too!
And under a leaf was another spider with her babies!
Wow, it sure was busy at this tree. The other tree with the pink flowers didn't have such a wild party. In fact, I looked as best as I could, and there were no insects.

The Dungun flowers must have quite a powerful attraction. That results in a frenzy of pollinators and the predators that prey on them. How do all these little spiders get there in time for the party? I have no idea.

This is my second time seeing Dungun in bloom. The first time was in March this year, also at Sungei Buloh. At that time, I only noticed a profusion of Weaver ants on the blossoms.

Our mangroves sure are fascinating!

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