Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ubin's Sensory Trail

It's been quite a while since I last guided at Ubin's Sensory Trail, so when I realised that we would be having a sensory trail walk last Saturday, I decided to sign up with Adelle.

The trail was called the Sensory Trail because plants along this trail can either be touched, smelled, tasted or, of course, seen. There were simply too many things along this trail, and I could only highlight some of them here.

Near the entrance to the trail was this little shed used for storing the dynamite for blasting the granite at Ubin last time, with a beautiful fig tree (but somewhat eerie) growing over it. It was believed that before it was used to store dynamite, this shed was a breadmaking oven owned by a French family that lived and sold bread on Ubin like 100 years ago.

And soon, a lovely fragrance greeted us as we entered the pandan valley...

There were also "fishy" plants in the garden. To find out why they are called fishy plants, just smell the leaves...

Little "Moses" were peeping out of their "cradle" for this moses-in-the-cradle plant, reminding me of the purplish herbal tea I used to drink when I was a kid.

And mulberry trees... I used to have a huge one right in front of my kampong house last time, and we used to find all kinds of cute little birds feeding on the berries on the tree..

Looking at the leaves of this henna tree, I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me - a hairy little caterpillar! The leaves of this tree gives the red dye used for henna art.

If you forgot to bring insect repellent, you will be happy to find this patch of citronella - a natural insect repellent!

There were lots of aloe vera in the garden too.

And also, cat's whiskers, which was a very popular medicinal plant in the region, and was used to treat all kind of diseases from kidney problem, gout, bladder probelm to diabetes and rheumatism.

And as we enter the secret garden, just on the left side near the entrance was a patch of toothache plant. Want to know why is it called the toothache plant? Join one of our Sensory trail walks!

There were blue peas growing on the fence too. This is the flower which gives the blue colouring for some nonya kuehs.

The belimbing tree was fruiting like nobody's business - yet another tree that reminded me of my childhood kampong days... We used to pluck and eat the fruits, though they were usually really sour...

We used to have coffee plantations on Ubin, you know?

They used to plant jasmine commercially on Ubin too! And the flowers smelled really nice...

The honeysuckle flowers, which were also called the "gold and silver" flowers. Can you guess why?

We proceed on to the mangrove area, and found lots of red weaver ants on a sea hibiscus tree. Maybe someone can enlighten me on the bug-like animals on the branches?

There were lots of mangrove trees along the trail too.

There were also several bird nest fern sitting by the side of the trail.

And dragon scale ferns creeping up the coconut trees.

And near the Volunteer's Hub, there was this tall cacao tree. This is the tree which gives us cocoa beans to make chocolates! I've always wondered why the tree was called cacao, but the beans called cocoa though... hmm... anybody knows why?

And right next to the cacao tree were several papaya trees, and among them were a few male papaya trees with lots of flowers.

And as I walked towards the jetty, I couldn't help but notice this lovely hibiscus flower, which blooms in the morning as a white flower, but slowly changes to pink in the afternoon.

And here are my visitors on the bumboat going back to mainland Singapore.

It was always nice to see visitors who enjoyed our nature walks. Despite the hot sun, all of them were happily chatting and smiling.

After I sent the visitors off, I went back to the trail to take more photos, and bump into 2 elderly angmos from England. They were on a working trip in Singapore, and would be here for a few months. Knowing that they were nature lovers, I offered to give them a free guided walk. And so, off I went again around the sensory trail...

Glad that the angmo couple enjoyed the trail as well, and even asked me to point out where it was located on the map, so that they could visit it again in future!


Edward said...

Nice Pix. Cacao is German for cocoa.
I was there last Sat 26 May too.

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Eh... Thanks. But that doesn't seem to explain why the tree was called cacao tree, but the beans called cocoa beans.

Anyway, found this on the web.

Cacao is actually a Mayan word meaning "God Food", and the tree's scientific name 'Theobrama Cacao' actually means 'Food of the Gods'. Cacao was supposedly corrupted into the more familiar 'Cocoa' by the early European explorers.

Hai~Ren said...

Nice photos.

I think those are a species of scale insect, which the weaver ants look after and 'milk' for the honeydew excretions. In return the ants watch over the scale insects and guard them against predators. It's apparently quite a common symbiotic relationship between ants and many sap-feeding bugs.

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Yah, I'm aware of the symbiotic relationship between ants and some hemipterans. Just that I'm not sure whether those are scale insects or other sap-feeding hemipterans. Not exactly good at insect classification and how to identify them.