These birds’ noisy calls ring as the early morning school bell. They have a distinctive glossy blueish-green plumage and striking dark-red eyes. Shown in the other picture is a juvenile, with fluffy freshly-plumed feathers and a white belly. They love to gather in flocks around the fig trees on the drive to Block D college section.
African Mahogany Khaya nyasica
The fast growing African Mahogany has a tall and firm trunk where lustrous leaves spread out evenly at its top. You may observe that unlike rain trees, they do not have epiphytic ferns growing on them. A row of these majestic trees lining the Tan Kah Kee Drive was planted in 1997. Apart from being well-known for providing beautiful lumber, the African Mahogany also provide cooling shade for pedestrians. It certainly makes walking up the hill every morning a lot easier!
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.
Saga Tree Adenanthera pavonina
The Saga Trees appear on both sides of the Clock Tower. They can be easily identified if one were to look intently on the ground for their small but distinctive red seeds. These seeds are scattered within the vicinity of the trees after its pods have burst. There used to be 3 Saga Trees along Tan Kah Kee Drive. The oldest among the 3 was planted when the Clock Tower was built, and was located in front of the SRC. After being partially damaged, it died in 2015. Recently, more of these trees have been planted along the driveway, with wild orchids grafted to their trunks. The iconic Saga Tree found beside the stone table and benches beside the Clock Tower once had the school bell hung from one of its the branches. Back then, students would gather below the tree, around the stone table and spend quality time with one another. This tree and its bell were wonderfully illustrated by alumnus and artist Mr Lee Kow Fong’s (“Ah Guo”) painting “百年钟声. 100 Years of Bell Ringing”, as a tribute to Hwa Chong during its centennial year.
Happiness Tree Garcinia subelliptica
This evergreen with glossy leaves boasts young flushes that are reddish-bronze in colour, which turn quickly to bright yellow-green, then finally to dark green when mature. Every high school consortium garden, opened in the 2010s, has its own Happiness Tree. They were selected because they do not shed leaves and create a mess, making the jobs of students-gardeners tending to it much easier. They started off at around the height of an average adult human. Look how much they have grown!
MacArthur Palm Ptychosperma macarthurii
A clumping palm with pinnate fronds (feather-shaped divided leaf) just like the Lipstick Palm, the MacArthur Palm might confuse onlookers at their first glance. While the stems of these palms are not red, they do bear small, red fruits that many birds feed on. It is a common sight to see the ground under its foliage strewn with its bright red fruits.