21 February 2011

Coastal forest of Lazarus Island

Lazarus Island is cloaked in a coastal forest full of interesting and some special plants.
A natural forest full of textures and colours!
Yesterday, the forest was particularly colourful because of the 'autumn leaves of the Sea almond (Terminalia catappa).

The plant I came to see on Lazarus is the Critically Endangered Fagraea auriculata. Fortunately the awesome Total Vascular Flora of Singapore online by Teo Siyang and friends recently featured this plant. From this I learn that the rare tree is only found on Pulau Biola, Pulau Tekukor and Lazarus Island. So I've managed to see these plants on all three sites. Hurray!
A small patch of the rare tree, clinging to a low natural cliff.
It was Andrew who first pointed them out to me on Pulau Tekukor. Andrew also shared that its Malay name 'Pelir Musang' means 'testicles of the civet cat' referring to the fruits. Alas, I could not find any of the beautiful large white flowers, nor the intriguingly named fruits.
There was a very large Penaga laut (Calophyllum inophyllum) which seems to have multiple trunks. This tree is Critically Endangered.
 Some mystery plants include this sprawling tree with orangey bark and little white fruits (some bluish).
 Another mystery tree with pretty white flowers.
There was a dense patch of these ferns under the tree high up on the rocky cliff. I haven't gotten up to speed on the coastal ferns yet, so I don't know what this is.
There was a large fig tree sprawled over the cliff edge. I'm not sure what kind of fig it is. It had large orange figs and I saw it too on my trip in Jun 2009.
Clinging to the cliff side, another mystery fig tree.
 Abundant on the shores were Peria laut (Colubrina asiatica). Once again, I noticed lots of little flies on the plant. Pollinators?
There is a very pretty stand of Seashore pandan (Pandanus tectorius).
Joseph Lai did a fantastic job of documenting the flora of Lazarus Island in Dec 06. Joe notes that "Lazarus has the rare distinction for being home to possibly the last surviving Sindora wallichii tree [of the Changi Tree fame] found in the Southern Islands of Singapore today."

Sadly, I noticed a lot of large trees had fallen over from the short natural cliffs and low shoreline.
There were huge tree roots all along the shore, some even near the low water line.
The coastal forest rings a little lagoon. Here I saw patches of tiny Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) and skinny short Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) . I saw only a small patch of very short Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). I didn't have time to check out the Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) that I saw on the rockier shore facing St. John's Island on my last trip in June 09.
After checking out the coastal forest I headed out to see what was in the lagoon.
It's full of corals and other marine life! I also had more surprises checking out man-made Seringat-Kias.


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