23 April 2009

Mangrove plants at the Botanic Gardens, and Envirofest Singapore

While waiting for the Envirofest Singapore meeting to start, I had a quick look at the Marsh Garden at the Botanic Gardens.
Tucked in a tiny corner of the Gardens, what familiar mangrove plants might I see there?
There were several humungous pandanus. The label was too tiny for me to read. But I suspect it's not one of our native pandans.Learning from the earlier trip to Pulau Semakau, I realised the white bracts in the pandanus were probably male flowers!There were also several large clumps of mangrove ferns. The bright red young leaf tips suggest these are Piai raya (Acrostichum aureum).There was also a large clump of Sealing wax palms (Cyrtostachys renda). Also called the Lipstick palm, this beautiful plant is part of the Singapore Botanic Garden logo. In the wild, it grows in coastal swamps, tidal rivers and peat swamps in our part of the world. And it is considered rather threatened in the wild due to habitat loss. It is, however, widely planted in Singapore as its bright colours are attractive and considered to bring good fortune.

There was also a huge Yellow-eye pong-pong tree (Cerbera odollam) and Putat laut tree (Barringtonia asiatica), both native seashore plants. Sadly though, I couldn't find the Sago palms (Metroxylon sagu) that I was sure were growing in the area in the past. These large palms grow in swamps and are the source of our favourite desert of the same name. Wild sago palms are also an important food source for coastal tribes that live in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya. There were lots of strange and colourful freshwater plants. I have no idea what they are!The Gardens in the evening are popular with families and joggers.

Eventually, the Envirofest Singapore meeting got started.With a great presentation on this exciting event that will bring so many environmental groups together.There was lots of discussion of various aspects.And a preview of some of the very colourful collaterals planned.Karen shares an idea for the groups involved in biodiversity. And Siva shared more ideas for an integrated theme to tie in all the other groups that are working on lifestyle and other issues.After some brainstorming and arrow shooting, seems like we have a Plan!

More about Envirofest Singapore on their blog!


  1. Dr Greg PoulgrainApril 24, 2009 at 5:32 AM

    A correction is needed in your description when you say: "Wild sago palms are also an important food source for coastal tribes that live in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya." Yes, they are important, but you should be aware they are harvested as planted produce, not simply wild. Many are planted by the father to be handed down to the son; all the locations are well-known. So even though they have the appearance of being wild, they are actually cultivated. From outward appearances, we often make the same mistake about Papuan society in general... sago as hors d'oeuvre with a delicious sauce, served with a special fork designed for the purpose, is delicious.

  2. Thank you Dr Greg Poulgrain for this invaluable correction.

    I am absolutely fascinated by our coastal and mangrove plants and their role in the lives of traditional peoples.

    I am always glad to learn more about them. Thank you once again for sharing.



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