25 January 2010

Vanishing Finlaysonia: status of a rare mangrove plant

This pretty climber is fast vanishing from our mangroves.
Pei Xin and Siyang and colleagues have shared more about it in a recent paper, among the first papers for 2010 in Nature in Singapore by the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research!

I learnt from their paper that this plant was recently found to contain substances that have antibacterial properties against fish diseases. Wow!

Also, that the stinky flowers are probably pollinated by flies and beetles that are otherwise attracted to rotting stuff.

Prior to 1994, the plant was only collected from Geyland and Kranji. Since then, it has been collected from and sighted at various other places. I was quite surprised to see good growths of the plant at Kranji Canal last year! And with fruits and flowers too. Since then I've seen the plant also at Pulau Ubin, but not flowering or fruiting. Here's a fact sheet on the plant on wildsingapore.

Alas, some of the locations where the plant is found are under threat of development or lack protection.

Its current status in the Singapore Red Data Book has been upgraded from 'Nationally Vulnerable' in the first edition, to 'Nationally Critically Endangered' in the current second edition. This is because it is estimated that there are fewer than 50 mature individuals left in the wild with some evidence of decline and fragmentation of its natural habitat.

The paper calls for the conservation of the dwindling wild populations of this plant.

Read all the details in the paper: Ang, W. F., P. X. Ng, S. Teo, A. F. S. L. Lok & H. T. W. Tan, 2010. The status and distribution in Singapore of Finlaysonia obovata Wall. (Apocynaceae). Nature in Singapore, 3: 7–11. [PDF, 476 KB]

Thanks to Pei Xin for kindly using the photos of the plants I saw at Kranji Canal! What a thrill for me!

There are also other great papers in this recent update of Nature in Singapore. Here's a summary of the papers on the Celebrating Singapore's Biodiversity blog.

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