This small and slender dove, also known as peaceful dove, is one of the most common dove species in Singapore. The narrow black lines on its pale-gray plumage gives the bird a zebra-like appearance, hence the name “zebra dove”. Unfortunately, its high, far-carrying ka-do-do-do-do calls have attracted predation from bird-traders.
Century Plant Agave americana
Although known as the century plant, Agave americana only has a lifespan of a few decades. ‘Agave’ literally means ‘admirable’, which refers to its majestic orange flower spikes. Unfortunately, as a monocarpic species, this plant is approaching the end of its lifespan if you ever see it bloom. Indeed it refuses mundanity and puts on a showstopper that marks its passage at the very end. (Warning! Contact with its sap and spikes may cause skin irritation! But with proper processing, it can be used as medicine.)
Bird's Nest Ferm Asplenium nidus
The epiphytic fern is commonly seen wedged in the branches of large trees, especially rain trees in Singapore. The fern is not parasitic, and can be found to grow independently. Fronds (leaves) form a rosette, resembling a bird’s nest, where fallen leaves accumulate. The fallen leaves soaks up rainwater, releasing water and nutrients for the fern. Brown spore sacs can be found on the underside of mature fronds (leaves).
Well known for its healing properties across cultures, Aloes are hardy succulents native to arid environments. The Egyptians called it the “Plant of Immortality” because it can live and even bloom without soil. Its sap can be used to treat burns, wounds and constipation, among many uses. Its ability to work its magic is attributed to the synergistic effects of over 160 different compounds, reminding us the power of teamwork.
Ponytail palm Beaucarnea recurvata
The long narrow leaves of ponytail “palm” flow up from the “elephant foot” much like a plume of water from a fountain. It is well adapted to its arid native environment in Mexico, storing water in its swollen base just like a camel’s hump. A slow growing tree, the ponytail “palm” in our school is considered young and therefore only consists of a single trunk without branches.
Pygmy Date Palm Phoenix roebelenii
This species of Date Palm is native to Southeast Asia. Even though they are capable of growing into a slender tree of up to 3 metres tall, the younger ones in school can usually be found in pots. With a high drought tolerance, they are perfectly suitable to be grown under the hot sun here in Singapore!
Cardboard cycad Zamia furfuracea
After Cycas revoluta, the Cardboard Cycad is without doubt the second most commonly grown cycad. It is among the most primitive living seed plants (a living fossil) dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. Why is it called the cardboard cycad? Well...its leaves are uniquely (though not exceptionally) stiff, making it rather unpalatable and for good reasons. Be careful! All parts of the plant possess a lethal concoction of toxins (in its sap) which are together, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic and can cause liver and kidney failure, as well as eventual paralysis.
Bougainvillea Bougainvillea glabra
The papery texture of these “flowers” almost looks similar to origami crafts. If you stop to look closely, will you realise that what you have always mistaken as its petals, are really just the bracts meant to attract pollinators. Indeed, small cream-coloured flowers can be found hidden within the bracts. Common colours of these bracts include purple, white, orange and yellow; ‘rainbow-coloured’ Bougainvillea with bracts of two or more colours on the same plant, are also often seen. The Bougainvillea has come to be synonymous with the Singapore landscape. It is extensively planted here because of the explosion of colours it brings to our hot, tropical environment all year round.