Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Discovery @ Singapore Botanic Gardens on 27 Nov 2007

Thirty fifth Discovery posting:

Well, since i was at the National Orchid Gardens yesterday, it meant that i was at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) for a walk also. Here's the main gate you'll see if you approach SBG from Orchard road (picture below).
First stop was the swan lake. I didn't saw any signboard to tell me that i was at swan lake but there was this (picture below). Now the swan lake do have swans living there right? Where are they....
Oh there they are (picture below). First 'discovery'!
Discovery Note:
1. Swans are large water birds that come from the same family which also includes geese and ducks.

2. Young swans are also known as cygnets. An adult male is a cob. An adult female is a pen.

3. Swans usually mate for life, though “divorce” does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure.

4. Swans are often a symbol of love or fidelity because of their long-lasting monogamous relationships.

And nearby to the lake was an art piece which caught my attention (picture below).
This (picture above) is "Joy" by Ruth Bloch, donated by a friend of the Gardens, in celebration of Love, Life and Laughter in July 2005.

Second 'discovery' looks familiar, doesn't it? This is the emblem of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and is featured in their logo, the sealing-wax palm (picture below).
Discovery Note (gathered from signboard in SBG):
1. This striking clumping palm is native to the peat swamp forests of Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.
2. The bright red crownshaft makes this palm unmistakeable and very attractive.
3. This plant is planted throughout the gardens.

Side note:
It was thought that this plant was not be to found growing in the wild anymore but if my memory serves me correct, a few months ago, the papers (Saturday Science section of the Straits Times) reported that people have found a wild and living sealing-wax palm in the forests of Singapore.

Third 'discovery' is the Jelawai, a designated heritage tree of Singapore (picture below). I didn't managed to take the whole tree in the photo as it was really too tall...
Discovery Note (gathered from signboard in SBG):
1. This Jelawai stands about 47 meters tall making it one of the tallest trees in SBG.
2. It is one of the giants of the rain forests of South-East Asia and is native to Singapore.
3. Once a year, the Jelawai will drop all its leaves and become briefly leafless before new leaves emerge.
4. Its two-winged fruits are dispersed by wind.

A familiar looking tree, the Kapok Tree was the fourth 'discovery' (picture below) Look at the contrast of height even when the lamp post in the picture is in the foreground. Wow!
Discovery Note:
1. This Kapok tree was planted in 1933. So that makes it to be at least 74 years old!
2. The Kapok tree is the tallest native tree in Africa, they can grow up to a height of exceeding 70 meters!
3. The brown seeds are round like peas and are found in pods.
4. The seed pods are woody, smooth and pendulous, with a light green colour. They will burst open while still on the tree after the leaves have fallen. Inside a whitish cotton like fiber surrounds the brown seeds.

5. These white cotton like fiber can be used in pillows and mattresses.

Side Note:
These trees actually play an important part within the ecosystem of the forest. Click here to find out more.

Fifth 'discovery' is the Tembusu (pictures below, it's the same tree by the way).Discovery Note (gathered from signboard in SBG):
1. This Tembusu is probably the best known tree in Singapore as it is featured on the SGD$5 note.
2. No one knows when this tree was planted but it probably stood there even before the Garden was laid out in 1859. Wow! That makes this tree more than a hundred years old!
3. Tembusu is native to Singapore.
4. This very hard wooded tree can thrive even on very poor soils. And if left unpruned, the trees can often develop large low branches with upswept ends (as you see in the picture and the $5 note)
5. They bear creamy fragrant flowers that attract moths in the evening and their fruits are small orange berries.

On the tree trunk, i spotted this lighting strike recorder, the counter read "3" (picture below). I wonder if it means that this tree was struck by lighting thrice after this device was installed...But thankfully, this tree still looks healthy to me and hopefully will stay alive and healthy for many years to come. =)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Discovery @ National Orchid Garden on 27 Nov 2007

Thirty fourth Discovery posting:

The National Orchid Garden (picture below), a place i wanted to revisit after participating in a guided walk there back in Jan 07.
Well, actually, most of the plants in this garden were intentionally transplanted from nurseries when they are flowering. Although it's not completely natural and somehow human-made, it can be an introduction to the beauties of nature.

Here is what will greet you when you enter the garden (picture below). Oh by the way, personal suggestion, this place is great for a alternative dating spot, just remember to go either in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and bring that camera! =P
This discovery post will be loaded with many pictures of Orchids, so do be patient and wait for the pictures to load =)

The Golden Shower (picture below)
Other Orchids (pictures below):
The Singa Gold (picture below)Discovery Note (General Notes about Orchid):
1. The orchid family Orchidaceae is probably the largest family of flowering plants with an estimated species count of about 25,000 to 30,000.

More orchids (pictures below):
Do you know that a number of Orchids have been named after politicians, celebrities and other famous personalities?

Here's the Paravanda, named after Mr. Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa (picture below).
Here's the Akihito, named in honour of Emperor Akihito of Japan (picture below).Now make a guess about this orchid (picture below), she is very famous. Why? Read on to find out.The answer (picture below):Discovery Note (More about Orchids):
1. They occupy almost every habitat, but are mostly tropical and epiphytic, perching on forest trees for support only.

2. A few orchids are lithophytes, which mean they grow naturally on rocks or on very rocky soil.

3. Others are terrestrial. This group includes nearly all orchids found in temperate regions.

More orchids! (pictures below):

One of the Orchids which i had a liking due to its appearance (picture below):
Well, it was not all orchid sighting, i did spot a few birds here and there (but can't ID them =P) and a squirrel! (picture below)How about some tea and snacks with orchids behind you (picture below)?
Do remember to bring back your rubbish. =)More and more Orchids! (pictures below):Discovery Note (more about Orchids):
1. The flowers of orchids are bilaterally symmetric and their petal is always highly modified, their stamens and carpels(parts of a flower) are fused and seeds are extremely small.

2. The leaves generally are simple and have parallel veins.

Some more orchids? (pictures below)
Another personal favourite, oh, by the way, i think this orchid is Spathoglottis Jane Goodall, which mean this was named after Dr Jane Goodall (picture below). Saw the ID from Juan Hui's entry on a visit to the Gardens also, now i just need to get that link to her blog entry...Following three orchids were taken in the cool house within the garden (pictures below):This final orchid i'm featuring has an interesting name, Renanthera Singaporeans! (picture below) A orchid for all Singaporeans, i presume. =)The weather was great today when i was walking around, cool and not sunny, so it's thanks to the weather i had a great walk. =)

Read Juanhui's entry on her visit to the Orchid Garden about a week ago.
Read more about Orchids here from wikipedia.
More info about the National Orchid Garden? Click here.

Additional information:
Guided walks at the National Orchid Garden happens on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
Timing: 9am, 10am, 11am and 4pm.
Register at the visitor center.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Discovery @ Labrador Mangroves on 25 Nov 2007

Thirty third Discovery posting:

(Entry @ 28 Nov 2007: Got the ID for first 'discovery')

Yesterday, i had initially planned to explore the Sentosa shores after a short trip to Changi Beach on Sunday. But decided to join the others in exploring the Labrador mangroves since i haven't really been in many mangroves compared to Inter-tidal areas.

Anyway, after reaching Labrador Park, we approached the mangrove area through a new extension in the park, and along the pavement, several different flowering species of plants were seen, and here's one of the flowers we saw along the way (picture below). I'm not good with plants, anyone has any idea which plant this is?
Although Han Chong really wanted me to walk in front, as i attract mosquitoes (especially females), i was at the back, hehehe. Here's a photo of almost everyone walking into the mangrove area (picture below)Along the way, we spotted some interestingly looking snails, they were very small, red in colour and there were loads of them... anyone has any idea what is their ID? Oh, by the way, first 'discovery'.

Entry @ 28 Nov 2007: ID of snail: Red berry snail, sphaerassiminea miniata. Thanks to Ron for the ID! Discovery Note (Entry @ 28 Nov 2007):
1. They have a bright, brick-read shell, short stumpy pair of red eye-stalks and they move in a jerky way.
2. They are well adapted to live out of water, they have a lung instead of gills for respiration.
3. They presumably graze on detritus and surface algae on the mud.

The challenge we faced when we were walking in the mangroves was that the ground was very soft and thus our feet sink whenever we make a step, here's a picture to show you what i mean(picture below). And at times, one would be unlucky to step on very soft ground and experience the natural mangrove mud leg treatment. (picture below) Oh, by the way, that's Juan Hui in the picture. =P Too bad, i forgot to ask her to smile for the camera as i asked Angie back in Semakau recently.

Moving deeper into the mangroves, we spotted this boat, what was this doing there?Anyway, very soon, we decided to call it a day in the mangroves as we seem to be sinking down instead of walking forward most of time.

Here are the foots of the five who went for the exploration (picture below). From 12 o'clock (Juan Hui, Han Chong, Andy, Myself and Tiong Chin) As the tide was still low when we ended our mangrove exploration, we decided to take a look at the inter-tidal area just next door to the mangroves.

Although the water was murky, i did managed to spot this carpet anemone, second 'discovery' (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. They have stinging cells in their tentacles, usually these tentacles are only exposed under water, but there have been cases where people have been stung when these are touched when these anemones are above water, so for your own safety, don't touch them with your naked hands.
2. They lack an anus, so they split out any indigestible food through its mouth.

As i walked around, i soon spotted a shell with some trail marks around it. I wonder if it was a hermit crab and decided to check it out. Oh, a stripped hermit crab (picture below), third 'discovery'.Discovery Note:
1. For a long time, i thought the stripped hermit crab can only be found on our northern shores. Well, this is a new discovery for me. =)

There were also a number of abandoned nets around the inter-tidal area and in the mangroves. And in one of the nets found in the inter-tidal, we found two horseshoe crabs trapped inside. They must have died after being trapped in the net. =( Side Note:
Besides not picking sea shells from the shores, we shouldn't throw nets into the waters near our shores so there will not be any abandoned nets and to prevent something like this (picture above) to happen again.

No matter what, i have to thank Andy for organising this trip and everyone else for turning up!

Juan Hui's entry on this trip here.

Recent concerns on the shores of Labrador:
1. Wildfilm's entry
2. Justin's entry