Saturday, January 24, 2009

Woodlands Mangrove

At a little corner of Woodlands, there is this little patch of mangrove seldom visited by nature lovers. Today, however, I decided to pay it a visit on my own. My main objective was to find the wild berembang trees (Sonneratia caseolaris), a rare mangrove plant in Singapore. According to the "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore", a few of these trees can be found here. This tree can be commonly found in the other countries in the region though.

I started at the back mangrove, which like most other back mangroves in Singapore, comprised mainly of the sea hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum).

Some of the sea hibiscus were fruiting, which attracted the cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus decussatus) that feed on the seeds.

A stream ran through the mangrove, and I spotted several damselflies (Pseudagrion microcephalum) nearby.

I saw quite a few of moths too. Not sure of the ID though.

This common mangrove climber, Caesalpinia crista, was rather abundant here, climbing over the sea hibiscus trees.

And finally, I reached the true mangrove area. It was a fairly small, but charming patch. The stream was in a jade-like green, and most part of the ground was covered with a layer of moss and algae. I didn't venture too deep into the forest though, since I was alone and wasn't wearing booties. Kind of chicken out. Haha :)

Still, I managed to find several common mangrove species.

The dominating true mangrove tree appeared to be the api-api putih (Avicennia alba) shown above, and there were quite a number of very mature trees. There were a few api-api ludat (Avicennia officinalis) as well.

Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica) was also quite common, and a few trees were flowering and fruiting.

A little higher up on the shore, a few blind-your-eyes (Excoecaria agallocha) can be found. The sap of this plant can cause blindness.

Both species of mangrove ferns, Acrostichum aureum (see above) and A. speciosum, were also found here.

After a short exploration, I suddenly see some cone-shaped pneumatophores sticking out of the ground. It's a Sonneratia! But was it what I was looking for? The tree was huge - the trunk was about 1 metre wide, and the tree was so tall that I could hardly see the leaves clearly. It has a very ancient feel to it though, being so huge and tall. I wondered how old it was. Somehow it felt rather magical when I was standing under this old tree.

After searching around the tree, I found some small branches with a few leaves near the base of the tree. From the shape of the leaves, it seemed to me that this is indeed a berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris)!

Below the tree, I also managed to find a few fruits. I looked around to see if I can find more of these trees.

But unfortunately, the only one nearby with cone-shaped pneumatophores was this dead tree. Since I didn't have my booties and couldn't explore too far, I decided to walk along the edge of the mangrove forest to see if I can spot any berembang leaves among the canopy. It appeared that there were at least 2 other Sonneratia trees, but since I couldn't venture into the softer areas without my booties, I couldn't check out the species.

On my way out, I saw this cute little plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) with some kind of nut in its mouth among the bushes. What a nice way to end my trip there :)

The next time I'm here, I'm certainly going to get a few more friends with me to properly explore this little mangrove. It's really a wonder that despite all the development around the area, this little pocket of nature still managed to survive so well! Certainly hope that it will stay this way for years to come.

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