This male black-naped oriole pecks at its brilliant yellow feathers on a tree behind Science Research Centre. Exclusive to South and Southeast Asia, this residential bird is ranked among the top 10 most common bird species in Singapore. The species has been spotted all over Hwa Chong campus, from college canteen to the drive along HCIS. This cheerfully-coloured bird is also a skillful singer, with over 50 types of calls! The famous chinese poem “两个黄鹂鸣翠柳” manifests the singing of two orioles during spring.
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!
Durian Tree Durio zibethinus
Unexpectedly, a single durian tree stands tall behind the High School Science Labs. It is relatively easy to identify this tree due to its near horizontal lateral branches growing away from the vertical, main trunk. The yellowish green durian flowers are usually bloom during the dry season. They are mostly found growing on the older, lateral branches of the tree in order to bear the weight of the durians if they are pollinated and fertilised. However, durian trees are known to be highly self-incompatible, requiring its flowers to be cross-pollinated from other trees around them. It is for this reason the one we see here will rarely bear fruits. On the bright side, you will not have to constantly look out for falling durians if you happen to walk under this particular tree!
Teak tree Tectona grandis
Teak wood (柚木) is particularly valued for its durability and water resistance. Its natural oils also confers the tree the ability to resist termites in exposed locations. These high quality, hard timber behind the high school labs were kindly donated by our school alumnus Mr Tan Leong Teck (陈龙德学长) in the early 2000s. Mr Tan’s intentionally bought young Teaks which would act as a great store of value in the long term, thinking that they could be sold for some money just in case the school lacked funds in future. The Teaks’ papery leaves, usually a few times larger than an adult human’s palm, may sometimes be infested with mealybugs. At one point, due to its proximity to the fenced garden behind the science labs, the mealybugs affected the growth of hybridised orchids. Consequently, the tree was later moved to the periphery of the building.
Frangipani Plumeria rubra
Many frangipanis are found in many locations around the school, each at varying stages of maturation. Frangipani flowers do not contain any nectar, but are highly scented and fragrant, which helps to attract Sphinx moths to pollinate them at night. Its petals are usually white on the outer area, and yellow at the centre - similar to that of an egg. This gives them their chinese name “鸡蛋花”. The Frangipani is an evergreen tree, shedding its leaves during dry seasons, allowing them to thrive in Singapore’s climate.