05 September 2009

Colourful mangroves: Plants!

The mangroves are aflame today! The Buta-buta leaves are turning bright red adding splashes of colour to the usually drab green mangroves.Today, I saw lots of special plants during a VERY slow walk on the Mangrove Boardwalk at Sungei Buloh.

The Buta-buta trees (Excoecaria agallocha) were glowing red and orange in the early morning sun. As Corners described them, they indeed did "give a beautiful display of red and yellow autumn tints".
There were several Buta-buta trees bare of leaves but full of flowers. The male flowers are long yellow and drooping. The female flower spikes (on different trees) are shorter and more upright.

Also turning red were the Sea almond trees (Terminalia catappa). Another 'autumn display' which Burkill remarked is "peculiar among Malayan trees".
The Mangrove Boardwalk is very well trodden. And today, there were streams of students being guided by their fellow students. All checking out the various common mangrove trees that are easily seen from the boardwalk.

But there are also many special mangrove trees here that are not commonly seen elsewhere.

Right at the Visitor Center, Mr Tay Soon Liang had planted a beautiful Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris). It is now quite a large tree and it was flowering! It is listed as Critically Endangered and there are very VERY few of these trees left growing in the wild.
At the start of the Boardwalk, several threatened trees have been planted. Chay Hoon reminds me to look more closely at the Putat kampong (Barringtonia racemosa). Although it is wasn't flowering, there were a few bunches of fruits hanging on a long spike. The fruits were covered in red weaver ants. I have no idea why. Nearby are also some tall, old Putat laut (Barringtonia asiatica). Both kinds of trees as listed as Critically Endangered.
Just a few steps away a very tall Tui tree (Dolichandrone spathacea) with its typical long pods. This tree is also found in front of the Visitor Centre. I couldn't see any of the beautiful white flowers that give its other common name of Mangrove trumpet tree. This tree is also Critically Endangered.
And just opposite is a large Sea teak (Podocarpus polystachyus). This a conifer is considered endemic to Southeast Asia. It produces seeds but no flowers. But today, I couldn't find any cones on the tree. This tree is also listed as Critically Endangered.
As we get into the middle of the Boardwalk, we stop by to take a closer look at the pretty Kempudang baran (Cassine viburnifolia). It was flowering the last time I saw it, and now it was drooping with fruits! The leaves have scalloped edges!
Looking more slowly and carefully, I also noticed ANOTHER Kempudang baran further away from the Boardwalk. It was obvious only because it too was drooping with fruits. This tree is also listed as Critically Endangered.
A rather boring looking shrub is the Dungun air (Brownlowia tersa). And it seems to be starting to flower! How exciting. This shrub is also called 'Durian laut' because its leaves are silvery on the underside and does somewhat resemble those of the Durian tree.
Quite far away from the Boardwalk, I noticed a huge mass of shrubby plants that seems to be Dungun air. Wow. This plant is listed as Endangered.
There is a group of large tall Tengar trees (Ceriops tagal) right next to the Boardwalk. Here, I can get a nice photo of their roots. These have been described as "short buttresses which might have started as short stilt roots at the base of the tree, pneumatophores sometimes seen as looped surface roots." Looking at these, now I know what the description means. This tree is listed as Vulnerable.
James of Sungei Buloh had earlier showed us where some very rare Bakau mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesii) were planted. Wow, they sure look good and seem to be growing well. This tree is listed as Critically Endangered.
Towards the end of the Boardwalk, there is a large Dungun (Heritiera littoralis) which has been described as a 'dinghy' tree. But I think it's quite striking with distinctive 'metallic' leaves that are silvery on the underside. It is listed as Endangered.
Also planted here and there along the Boardwalk are the Mata pelandok (Ardisia elliptica). Its name means 'mousedeer eyes' possibly referring to the black button-like fruits. This shrub is listed as Endangered.
Among the more common trees that are not listed as threatened, were the tall and handsome Nyireh bunga trees (Xylocarpus granatum). And many fruits were developing on them. These turn into large round fruits that give their common name of Mangrove cannon-ball tree.
There were also some of plants that I couldn't identify. There were several of these shrubs with leaves in sets of three and tiny flowers on long spikes that turn into green fruits.
Here's a closer look at the flowers. I suspect it might be the Tit berry (Allophylus cobbe).
Another mystery plant were these that were just planted at the entrance to the Boardwalk. There were several of them and they had clusters of pink things (fruits? buds?).
These shrubs at the entrance to the Boardwalk with the stunning bright blue flowers are possibly some sort of Memecylon. But they don't quite look like the Delek air (Memecylon edule) on Chek Jawa. It was a short, pleasant EASY walk along the Boardwalk and we could see so many different kinds of trees and plants. Not just all the fascinating 'common' mangroves, but also many of our critically endangered and threatened plants.

We also saw lots of colourful mangrove animals!

Chay Hoon took care of all the spider shots and she saw a lot of them just walking along the Boardwalk. Many of them were really tiny. Read all about them on Chay Hoon's colourful clouds blog.

Besides that, we also caught up with many colourful mangrove people. We met July and his team doing more guiding and sharing. As well as Robert and other friends.

More about Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and guided walks there on the wildsingapore website. Also check out the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve website.


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