18 December 2010

Special plants at Woodlands mangroves

There are some special plants in a tiny sliver of mangroves at Woodlands Park.
I decided to check out the mangroves even though the tide was a bit high. Which turned out to be very good timing, because I saw an otter there!

Among the special trees found in this mangrove are probably among the last naturally wild Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) on the mainland. This tree is Critically Endangered. The last time I was here a year ago, I saw two of them. Earlier on, I noticed one that looked like a dead Berembang. The two remaining trees are very tall, about 15-20m tall. One of them, however, doesn't look very healthy. Oh dear.
It seems a bit 'botak', lots of twigs without leaves.
The other tree, thankfully, is still lush with lots of leaves.
A closer look at the leaves.
I checked for flowering and fruiting, and couldn't find any fruits and only two flowers. One is a bud that seems to have dropped off without flowering. There were no flower stamens on the ground beneath the tree either. Well, perhaps it's just not the season for flowering? I do hope so.
Another special mangrove plant found here is the Durian air (Brownlowia tersa), which is listed as Endangered. Wow, the bushy plant has grown since I last saw it! There seems to also be smaller plants around it.
Unfortunately, as in my previous trip, there were many branches snapped off the plant.
On the ground were several broken branches. Still a mystery to me why this is happening.
As I explored a little further, I noticed for the first time a plant that might be the Mangrove trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea)?! This tree is listed as Critically Endangered.
It was rather far away on the opposite bank and here's closer look at what seems to be a bunch of dark curly seed pods and also of the leaves.
Other interesting trees include a very very large fig which I think is a Jejawi (Ficus microcarpa). This is great as this fig tree provides food for a wide variety of birds and other animals.
Draped on the tall trees are these climbers which we call "Money plant". The leaves grow enormously large. I'm not really sure about it's scientific name or status.
Surprisingly, I notice that the plant is creeping onto the mudflats! From the state of the leaves, it seems to be able to withstand some inundation. Oh dear. I wonder if this is bad news for the mangroves. Will these creepers smother the mangrove trees?
The Park is well planted with lots of Fiddlewood trees (Citharexylum quadrangulare). And they were blooming, attracting bees and butterflies.
I also saw several of this strange plant at the landward edges of the mangrove forest that I can't identify. It has large toothed leaves.
And very odd looking branches. I couldn't find any flowers or fruits. I'm sure Siyang will come to my rescue!
A freshwater stream feeds this sliver of mangroves.
It is so lovely here, with sandy banks, clear water and grasses and other plants growing by the streamside.
Of course there were lots of dragonflies and other insects. And this huge but very fluttery butterfly. Once again, I'm lamely unable to identify it.
I even saw some shorebirds foraging in the stream! They were too quick to photograph, but later on I saw their footprints on the sandbar.
Alas, as the stream flows towards the mangroves it becomes increasingly choked with rubbish.
Mostly plastic bags that are not binned. These slip into our drains and then into our canals and eventually the sea.
Also strange items in the stream. Like this one, I have no idea what this is.
It's really nice to have an accessible stream that leads to a special mangrove inside a manicured park like Woodlands Park. But this also means that people can easily abuse the natural habitat. Let's hope these special bits of wilderness continue to survive.


  1. Thank you Siyang for coming to the rescue once again!

  2. Hi Ria;
    I'm starting to learn about these beautiful butterflies. Your picture looks like Papilio mahadeva (The Burmese Raven): http://yutaka.it-n.jp/pap/10300001.html. Check it out and see it this is the one.

    Your money plants pictures, both of them are ariods belonging to Ariod (Araceae family). The pic on left (with huge leaves) is a genus of Monstera, while the right pic looks like Epipremnum aureum, i think (picture not so clear to see leaves structure)

  3. Wow thanks for the IDs! I'm quite useless with non-marine lifeforms!

  4. It's commonly called Scindapsus aureus - the large leafed 'money plant'. The shrub with toothed leaves is Leea indica. cheers : )

  5. Thanks so much Joe! Really appreciate the IDs!

  6. The butterfly is a female Jacintha Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina jacintha) which is quite common in areas where its caterpillar host plant, Asystasia gangetica, grows wild. I agree with Siyang and Joe that the plant with the toothed leaves is Leea indica or commonly called the Bandicoot Cherry. The small white flowers of this plant are very attractive to butterflies as well.

  7. Wow, thanks! I learn so much from all of you. Thank you very much!

  8. The 2 climber photos shown under "Money Plant" is Epipremnum aureum (Linden ex André) Bunting [ syn. Scindapsus aureus ]. Other common names include Pothos & Devil's Ivy. Its leaves tend to be green in the shade but more variegated under brighter light.

    The physiologically-mature leaves become much larger & rather lobed with increasing climbing height. On the other hand, the physiologically-juvenile leaves (ie. those located at low heights, or creeping horizontally) remain small & unlobed. The interesting thing is that when the high shoot holding the mature leaves starts to hang/trail downwards due to lack of further climbing space, its new leaves down the shoot revert to the juvenile morphology upon their approach to the ground.

    This species originates from Solomon Islands, & as such is exotic to S'pore. Although it's quite common on trees, it seems fairly docile under local urban conditions, & stays on the trunk/major branches. This root climber does not appear to exhibit tree-smothering behaviour that is so apparent in tendril/twining vines like the notorious Mikania or Smilax. However, the danger of its introduced presence in the local rainforests or mangroves is that it can instead potentially overrun the ground & tree trunks, thus stealing space from native species that might have otherwise occupied the same niche.

    The specimens in the Woodlands mangrove are most likely horticultural escapees. It's not surprising that the plant withstands temporary inundation at the mudflats. One can grow it w/o any substrates in fresh or brackish water, provided that the plant is not completely submerged. In fact, this species has good tolerance against soil salinity & wind-borne salt spray ([1], [2]), & is known to grow on beaches at some Pacific Islands.

    [1] Salt Tolerant Plants for East Central Florida

    [2] Salt and Wind Tolerance of Landscape Plants for Hawaii

  9. Btw might the black "strange" item in the stream possibly be a portable cassette-playing radio ? Or perhaps the base of some old-fashioned household electronic equipment ...

    Since it looks accessible, why not pull it out of the stream if you see it again ? I suppose this kills 2 birds with 1 stone -- you get to ascertain its identity & clean up the environment at the same time !

    I had seen whole sofa sets deep in the Sg Buloh mangrove. I have yet to figure out how such things get there. It's a quaint scene though. Maybe the "donator" was inviting visitors to immerse themselves amongst the muck & prop roots -- & literally make themselves at home within the mangroves.

  10. WOW, thanks Pat for all the details about the 'Money plant'. I certainly learnt a lot from you.

    Yes, agree with you on the horrendous amount of trash found in the mangroves!



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