17 March 2011

First time to Mandai mangroves!

I've heard so much about the magical mangroves here, so I was very excited to make my first trip today.
Among the first awesome sights, was the rare Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii) growing right through to the back mangroves!

I'm not too surprised to see such large meadows of this rare seagrass. As they're growing quite well on the Kranji side of Sungei Mandai Besar.
The seagrasses were growing under the tall trees.
And the meadows extend to the sea, in patches in some places. The shore was too huge and some parts too soft for me to find out just how vast the meadows really are in this one trip!
In some parts, the seagrass blades grow so thickly that they 'stand up' even when out of water!
Here's what the seagrasses usually look like. Tiny narrow leaf blades that emerge in a rosette.
As usual, I notice lots of mangrove saplings growing where the meadows are. I'm not sure which came first, the meadows or the saplings.
Besides this seagrass, there's also lots of interesting rare mangrove plants at Mandai.

Mandai is Merope-land! I was kindly shown many many plants of the Limau lelang (Merope angulata). Listed as Critically Endangered, many were bearing large healthy fruits. The plant does have a faint pleasant lime-like smell.
My first time seeing what seems to be a wild Seashore spider lily (Crinum asiaticum). Although this lily is widely planted in our parks and gardens, I have never seen in the wild. Perhaps this is why this plant is listed as Critically Endangered.
I also saw what seems to be a Mangrove trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea). This tree is listed as Critically Endangered and is now planted in some of our parks and gardens.
There were many clumps of happy looking Dungun air (Brownlowia tersa). Listed as Endangered, many were flowering! I noticed a strange thing today. When we walked past this clump of flowers at about 3pm, the flowers were closed. On the way back a few hours later, I noticed the flowers were fully opened. Are the flowers night-blooming? Hmm...
Finally, my first time seeing the fruits of the Dungun air!
Mandai mangroves is a creepy place. And I mean a nice creepy place. The trees are festooned with all manner of climbers. Among them, the fascinating Ant-house plant (Dischidia sp.) which has inflated leaves to provide a home for ants. In exchange, the plants enjoy the nutrients brought in and pooped out by the ants. Today I noticed long green bean-like things growing from the plant. Are these its fruits? It also had tiny flower buds.
Another abundant climber here is the Wax plant (Hoya sp.). This one was flowering! The pretty flowers do look like they are made of wax. From the flowers, this is probably Hoya verticillata.
There are lots and lots of the Critically Endangered Kalak kambing (Finlaysonia obovata). They draped on trees, sometimes forming thick curtains, and even crept over the ground. The next time I come I shall look more carefully for flowers and fruits. I was too excited this trip.
I was so engrossed looking at plants that I missed most of the animals. But this pretty beetle was too colourful to ignore. It's the Mangrove stink bug (Calliphara nobilis) that feeds on the fruits of the Buta-buta tree (Exoecaria algallocha) which were plentiful in this mangrove.
Alas, we see many large trees that have fallen over.
But many seem to struggle on and continue to grow.
Towards the middle of our slow walk, we discovered a fascinating back mangrove here thick with trees. Some trees are very big and tall.
Here, it was lovely to come across not only short Teruntum putih (Lumnitzera racemosa), but also many tall old grizzled trees! A Lumnitzera forest! Wow.
It will take a long time for me to figure out all the trees and plants here! In any case, it was getting dark and time to go home. I'm looking forward to more trips to check out these fascinating mangroves!

2 comments:

  1. Regarding Dischidia - the fruits are usually borne in pairs, so you probably saw the fruits (sometimes one of the pair aborts). The family Apocynaceae /Ascelpiadaceae have paired (or bi-lobed) fruits, e.g. Hoya, Cerbera, Plumeria, Wrightia...

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  2. Thanks Bian! Wow, I learn so much from you about our fascinating mangrove plants.

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