Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quick Look at Some Mangrove Plants of Ubin and Pasir Ris

Finally managed to find time to go Ubin again to take a look at the mangroves there with some of the NParks staff.

Mangrove cannonball trees (Xylocarpus granatum)

We went to one of the less often explored part of Ubin. Along the way, I noticed that many of the mangrove cannonball trees (Xylocarpus granatum) are flowering. In fact, we saw a few of them fruiting along the way too.

Teruntum merah (Lumnitzera littorea)
Several teruntum merah (Lumnitzera littorea) were flowering too! The brightly coloured flowers were really eye-catching!

Kacang-kacang (Aegiceras corniculatum)
One of our main objectives was to check out the kacang-kacang (Aegiceras corniculatum). There used to be one just by the road side near the three bridges area, but the tree hadunfortunately died. The other kacang-kacang on Ubin were all rather inaccessible, such as this one which was located rather deep into this rather ulu part of Ubin. Unfortunately it wasn't flowering though.

Tylophora sp.
We saw quite a few of this mangrove climber around, but can't remember the name. Will check out the name and update this later. Update: Have checked with Ali, it's a Tylophora sp. Thanks Ali!

Gymnanthera oblonga
There were lots of young Gymnanthera oblonga (another mangrove climber) along the way. This plant is supposedly to be critically endangered in Singapore, but interestingly is rather common on Ubin.

Pemphis acidula
Another objective of the day was to visit the pemphis (Pemphis acidula) planted by NParks at Chek Jawa. Ali had told me previously that they planted this very rare mangrove plant on Ubin some time ago, but it totally slipped my mind until I saw it on CH's blog (Thanks CH for spotting it!). It was really great to see NParks planting these rare mangrove plants on Ubin and in other mangrove forests in Singapore!

Merbau (Intsia bijuga)
While visiting the pemphis, I make use of the opportunity to check out other mangrove plants too, such as this Ipil (Intsia bijuga), which happened to be fruiting! The fruit was rather well concealed above the green leaves though.

Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris)
There was also a very tall and naturally occurring berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) here. It's probably between 10-20m tall (I'm really bad at estimating heights, haha). NParks planted a few berembang near the Jejawi Tower too.

Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata)
Nearby, there were a few gedabu (Sonneratia ovata) trees, and they were fruiting!

Yellow flame tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum)
There were a few yellow flame trees (Peltophorum pterocarpum) at the back mangrove area. This tree is supposed to be extinct in the wild in Singapore, but Ali pointed out that the ones we saw at Chek Jawa was growing on muddy substrate, so it's not likely that they were planted. Hmm...

Berus mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesi)
After the trip to Chek Jawa, I managed to find time to check out the berus mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesii). It appeared that NParks had built a fence near the tree. This is certainly good news as we have seen campers and anglers around the area, breaking branches and trampling around. So at least this internationally critically endangered plant is getting more protection now.

Berus mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesi)
It appeared that this tree is always flowering! I noticed one of the branches being half-broken though. Not sure if it was due to the recent strong winds or broken by people...

Berus mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesi)
There were a few propagules too!

After my Ubin trip, I decided to drop by Pasir Ris to check out the mangroves there.

Pisang-pisang laut (Kandelia candel)
My first stop was the only pisang-pisang laut (Kandelia candel) left on mainland Singapore. But on reaching the site, I saw a bicycle leaning on the railing just next to the plant!

Pisang-pisang laut (Kandelia candel)
Moving closer, I saw that one of the two main branches of the plant was all dried up and dead!

Pisang-pisang laut (Kandelia candel)
Here's the same plant about 2 months ago. The now dead main branch had 5 healthy smaller branches then, and a few flower buds. I regretted not making a trip down to take photos of the flowers when they were blooming.

For all I know, this rare plant may be totally gone soon if the authorities doesn't do anything about it. It's really depressing to see such a rare plant in Singapore in such a sorry state. I think the authorities built the railing too close to the plant, and it's at a very convenient height for parking bicycles. And while parking and taking their bicycles, the cyclists probably damaged the branches in the process. Furthermore, it's probably a convenient spot for them to dispose off any rubbish while collecting their bicycles.

Pisang-pisang laut (Kandelia candel)
There were all kind of rubbish around the plant, including used BBQ wire mesh, burned coconut husk, and once, I even found charcoal and ashes next to the plant, with the leaves badly burned. Will be writing an email to NParks... Hopefully they will do something about this...

Rapanea porteriana
Moving on to other parts of Pasir Ris, the Rapanea porteriana planted by the park authorities were fruiting.

Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora)
The lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora) near the bridge area had developed propagules.

Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora)
There were actually many lenggadai trees at the boardwalk area too, but many of them were a distance away from the boardwalk and could be a little to identify. One of the ways to identify them was to keep a lookout for thick clusters of young plants under the tall trees. Apparently, young lenggadai tend to grow well under the shade of the parent plant, but somehow start dying off when they reach a certain height. One possible explanation is that lenggadai tends to have a shorter life span compared to other mangrove trees, and hence the young plants have a better chance of replacing the parent tree.

Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris)
I went to the freshwater pond, and saw that the berembang planted by NParks looked like they would be flowering that night. Didn't stay back to watch it flower though.

It was a tiring but fulfilling trip to see these beautiful mangrove plants all in a day. I do hope that the authorities will look into better protecting the few rare mangrove plants that are occurring naturally though.

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