This charming songbird has a wide range of calls - its lingering whistles in the early morning welcome Hwa Chong students into the campus. In fact, the Ioras found in Hwa Chong is the Singaporensis, a sub species unique to Singapore. Small it might seem, the Iora is carnivorous - it feeds on caterpillars thus keeping the trees in Hwa Chong healthy.
The Podocarpus brevifolius in front of the high school science labs was planted by school alumni Mr Tan Leong Teck in 2004 as President of the Hwa Chong Seniors Club. He also held the position of President of the Hwa Chong Alumni Association from 1960 - 1982. This plant serves to recognise the generous donations and contributions that he had made to the school over the past few decades - a wonderful exemplification of the value 饮水思源 that every Hwa Chong student should know.
Mango tree Mangifera indica
While the one in the butterfly garden is still in its infancy, mature wild mango trees bearing fruits can be found behind the clock tower and the high school science labs. The fruits borne usually attract, and are consumed by, visiting birds and scampering squirrels.
Starfruit Tree Averrhoa carambola
The starfruit is particularly unique with 5 distinctive ridges along its length, giving it the shape of a star once it is sliced apart. This tree flowers multiple times a year, each time blooming with fragrant lavender flowers and bearing small starfruits. It is self-fertilised, for this is the only starfruit tree around that area! Every part of the plant is valuable. Besides having edible fruits, its fruit juice can be a stain remover while unripe fruits can be used for dyeing cloth. Its flowers, seeds and leaves all have medicinal properties of their own.
Orange Champaca Michelia champaca
A phylogenetically ancient plant, Michelia champaca is part of the family Magnoliaceae, which appeared before plants differentiated into monocots and dicots. If you look closely at its orange flowers, you’ll notice that all its petals are similar (rather than having 2 types of petals as with many modern plants), and its reproductive organs are less apparent than many modern plants. One can determine the age of the plant by observing the colour of its flowers: younger plants produce bright yellow flowers while older ones give deep orange flowers.
Seashore Pandan Pandanus tectorius
The Seashore Pandan is typically found on undisturbed shores and back mangroves in Singapore. Because of poor oxygen conditions in the mangrove, it has aerial roots to “breathe”. Initially, this tree was planted at the same time as the “desert” plants beside Block A in High School to further beautify the school’s landscape. Due to its quick growing leaves, it has to be trimmed fairly regularly to prevent it from becoming too big. There also used to be a stone table in the middle of the cluster for students who are seeking shade from the hot afternoon sun to rest at. However, it was shortly removed due the proliferation of mosquitoes around the area. The fruits of pandan have a deceiving green covering, almost similar to a durian. But unlike the durian, its outer covering itself is the seed, which will reveal a spectacular orange and yellow layer below the green when removed. This sprawling tree teaches us not to judge a book by its cover!