Friday, August 12, 2005

Hear ye, hear ye!

So this tree introduction thing was supposed to be a weekly series.. but looks like we're a weeee bit too busy, what with 4/5ths of BTNR still waiting for us. But we'll still try our very best to keep posting! In fact, here's our very next tree.

Next in line of the most common trees at BTNR is the Terentang, scientifically known as Campnosperma auriculatum. "auriculatum" is a latin reference to the "ear-lobes" at the base of the leaf. If you pick up a Terentang leaf and look at the base, you'll easily see what the name means. This is how to identify a Terentang:

I personally find the easiest way is to look up at the flat-topped crown of the tree, because the Terentang leaves are arranged in a very characteristic spiral that makes it very pretty to look at.

The leaves are very easily recognisable too. They are large, up to 20cm wide and 52 cm long. The shape of the leaf is obovate, with a notched apex (a slightly heart shaped tip) and a base that is tapered and forming a pair of ear-like lobes. The leaf tapers all the way down, so there is no distinct leaf stalk. There are 12-23 pairs of secondary veins, and the tertiary veins are also easily visible on both sides of the leaf, and are a mix of ladder-like and net-like.

The tree trunk often has short spreading buttresses. It can be grey to yellow coloured, and the bark is usually shallowly-fissured, cracked, or papery scaly.

A good place to spot the Terentang is at the beginning of the main road up BT hill. There are Terentang on both sides, and if you look up, it shouldn't be hard at all to spot the spiral arrangements of the leaves.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Scaphium macropoda

Cheng teng anyone? Visitors to BTNR are now treated to the sight of spilled jelly along the main road, near Kruing Hut. This jelly substance, is more often seen in our popular local dessert, Cheng Teng. The jelly substance came from the seed, after it has absorbed moisture. This jelly possibly provide nutrients to the developing embryo. Even people who purchase the seed from shops may not recognise it, dangling from its splitted open fruit pod, which resembles a boat. This boat-like design acts like a spiraling parachute, dispersing the seed some distance away from the parent tree. If you are lucky enough, you might be treated to the sight of the fruit spiraling down.
The scientific name of this tree is Scaphium macropoda, and in Malay, Kembang Semangkok. Medicinal value of S. macropoda has long been recorded in Chinese medicinal books and is said to be good for asthma, sore throat, constipation and alleviates heatiness in general.
Right now, especially after the numerous downpours last week, many young S. macropoda seedlings are sprouting out among the mess of jelly!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ah.. I love my babies!

The long flowering and fruting season (since March) is so exausting.. But now I'm so proud and happy to see many of my babies spining gracefully down the canopy.. lying on the ground and patiently wait...

For some rain water.. and for a chance to grow!

Not forgeting the babies of my cousins, Meranti Tembaga (Shorea leprosula)..

And Nemesu (Shorea pauciflora)!

Remember to keep to the trail.. NEVER try to walk into the forest and step on any of our babies! We'll be crying and screaming but you just can't hear...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tropical Fruits in season

So after months of searching & collecting, we finally got a few of our Fruits of Labour - the seasonal tropical fruits for now. Sorry, if you are thinking of the palatable Durian, Mango, Sq H2O Melon etc, too bad for we found none of those except the JackfruitS.
First pix on left shows the smaller fruits while the ones on the right are bigger - just imagine .... the "nut" of the big one on top is almost the size of the fist of Plywood, or is s/he Ploywind?
Anyway, hope you enjoy the pics. BTW these are not the full fruits of our Labour. There are still more, like ... sorry, I forgot, due to the extremely wet July. Wet weather erode my memory. Inspite of the wet weather, we still have to hug the trees. If you ever try hugging a tree when the bark is wet, pls don't take the public transport back home w/o a change of clothing, unless you are targetting for a Free stay at the infamous 5 star Wooden Bridge Hostel.
Enjoy our Fruits & tell us their names if you can.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Calling all residents of Tampines!

Our tree this week should be familiar with many residents of the East of Singapore. It is the Tempinis tree, after which the estate Tampines was named. The scientific name for the Tempinis is Streblus elongatus. In Latin, Streblus means crooked while elongatus means elongated or lengthened - possibly refering to the flowers arranged in catkins (spikelike, often pendulous, inflorescence of petal-less unisexual flowers, see below).

The Tempinis is scattered about the lowland forests of the Malaysian Peninsula, as well as Sumatra. It is also one of the more common trees in Bukit Timah and the rest of Singapore, so one should have no problem finding one. To identify one, look for:
  • A medium sized tree, which may reach 33m height and 80cm in diameter.
  • The trunk is often slightly fluted (with furrows or grooves/not perfectly round).
  • The bark is usually smooth to dippled (bark peeled off in tiny patches, leaving some "scooped" marks), sometimes shallowly fissured, and is grey-brown in colour. Often, it will have a patchy green-white colouration due to lichens growing on the bark.

  • The leaves are simple, and are arranged alternately. The leaf is oblong-elliptic in shape, sized about 10~38cm x 2~8cm large, and has a stalk about 0.2cm~1.3cm long. The apex (tip of the leaf) is sharply pointed, the base is unequal, and there are about 10-20 secondary nerves which are sunken above and visible on both sides of the leaf. If you touch a leaf, the undersurface is usually rough.

Timber of Tempines is very hard, very heavy, and is one of the most durable. Scarce supplies, however, means that use of Tempinis timber is limited to small articles such as tool handles in which both toughness and flexibility is needed.

The tree is all throughout Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and there are many along the main road. Tampines residents should definitely go check this tree out!