The single large longan tree hugging the back of the Clock Tower was donated by our school alumni, Mr Tan Leong Teck. Many trees in Singapore are often valued for its utility in providing shade; however, it was hoped that the longan could provide sweet treats to squirrels, birds and insects in our school. Longans are native to Southeast Asia. The brown shells of the fruit hides the sweet and juicy flesh inside, which can be eaten fresh or canned in a sweet syrup. While it is of the same family as the rambutan and lychee and their fruits do taste similar, the “shells” of these fruits look nothing alike.
Seashore Mangosteen Garcinia hombroniana
Rare, little-known fruit native to southeast Malaysia. This species is believed by some to be one of the two natural hybridizing parents of the mangosteen. As it naturally grows near seashores, it is likely salt and sand tolerant. Trees are dioecious, thus if you have a male plant, you will not be able to see its white fruits. The interior of the fruit is segmented, like the mangosteen, but the pulp is yellowish, thin and sour, although it has a good flavour. Most segments contain one flat seed. The roots and leaves are used medicinally to relieve itching. This plant in our school was given to us by NParks for our participation in the Greening Schools project.
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 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 growing 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 some of them will be present to witness the bicentennial of Hwa Chong.
Golden Trumpet Allamanda cathartica
A vine or climbing shrub with milky sap, its leaves are leathery while its large bright yellow flowers are trumpet-shaped with five spreading petal lobes. Studies on A. cathartica have shown various properties of the plant which includes being antimicrobial, antimalarial and antioxidant due to its wide variety of chemical composition. However, these useful chemicals needs to be isolated from the white latex which is an irritant. This plant was donated to us by a group of retired alumni whose names can be found on the plaque. Like Mr Mak Chin On who has donated many plants to the school, they’ve demonstrated to us the spirit of giving back that the school hopes to inculcate in our students.
MacArthur Palm Ptychosperma macarthurii
A clumping palm with pinnate fronds (feather-shaped divided leaf) just like the lipstick palm, 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.
Water Jasmine 水梅 Wrightia religiosa
The Water Jasmines in our school were once donated by alumnus Mr Tan Leong Teck (陈龙德学长). Many neatly trimmed bushes of Water Jasmines can also be found lining the pavements at different locations around the High School section. Some of them have also been turned into bonsais, which are being maintained by our skilful gardeners over the years. You may be astonished to find out that the bonsai are of the same species as rows of “typical” bushes. If you do not believe it, lean close and smell their sweet and fragrant white flowers!