Heliconias are also called ‘lobster-claws’, which vividly describes the unique shape of its vibrant blossom. Each strain has its distinct colour combination. The species psittacorum (from Greek word psittacus, which means parrot) is noted for the stark, chromatic contrast between its bright yellow inflorescence and crimson bract. The unique tubular flower reminds onlookers of a toco toucan beak, and produces a berry-shaped fruit after pollination. The flowers are proudly displayed at the tip of slender specialised shoots that are cuddled by dark green lanceolate foliages.
Lipstick Palm Cyrtostachys renda blume
The Lipstick Palm or Sealing Wax Palm has a prominent scarlet crownshaft and leaf sheath, which makes it stand out from other common palms. The hard outer wood of the stem can be used to make dart bodies. This popular ornamental palm adds a vibrant shade of vermilion to the predominantly green landscape on this part of the school. It is also not uncommon to spot bird nests built between the huge leaves of the palms. They must have been attracted to the red stems! Despite its common name, it is not a source of sealing wax. Instead, its name originated from the the similar colour of its red crownshaft and the wax used to seal letters.
Betel-nut palm Areca catechu
These betel-nut palms shoot up as tall as the 4-storey high Block E in JC. They boast magnificent fronds (palm leaflets) that could grow up to 2m in length. The betel nut is not a true nut, but rather a fruit categorized as a berry. It is commercially available in dried, cured, and fresh forms. When fully ripen, the fruit is bright red in colour. The fruit flesh on the seed has psychoactive properties (stimulating effects). Addicts of betel quids reveal their habit when they smile - their teeth are stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing potent parcels of betel nuts and tobacco, wrapped in a lime-coated betel leaf. Unfortunately, the fruit is also believed to be carcinogenic, accounting for high incidences of oral cancers in South-East Asian communities that still consume betel nut prolifically.
Spider Lily Hymenocallis caribaea
Native to South America, its genus name is derived from the hymen, meaning "membrane", and kalos meaning "beautiful". It refers to the curious shape of the flowers, consisting of 6 narrow petals attached to a shallow cup that is formed from the fused stamens. However, its common name is a misnomer as Hymenocallis caribaea is not part of the Lily family but more closely related to daffodils. The flowers open in the evenings and emit a marvelous fragrance that is strong till dawn and this scent gradually decreases during the day.
Golden Yellow Rain Tree Samanea saman (yellow leaf var.)
The world’s first golden yellow rain trees were cultivated by Maryland Nursery, headed by Mr Mak Chin On, in the 1990s to 2000s. Since then, these yellow trees have been increasingly sought after for their bright and striking golden foliage in Singapore. When planted alongside their green counterparts, it certainly adds greater diversity and a contrast of colours to the typical rain trees that we are all so familiar with. These yellow rain trees are grown all over the school campus, many of which were generously donated by our school alumni, Mr Mak. However, out of the estimated 200 that he had donated, only half of them still remain in the school due to difficulties in maintaining this particular variety. Given that these trees were bred only around 2 decades ago, they are evidently much younger and smaller in size. It is for certain that all of them will be present to witness Hwa Chong’s bicentennial celebrations