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!
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.
Peacock Flower Caesalpinia pulcherrima
The plant’s specific epithet ‘pulcherrima’ means “the most beautiful”, in Latin, which truly describes its flowers of a brilliant mix of yellow, orange to red. The long stamens and style reminds one of the vibrant plumage trailing from a peacock’s tail.
White Ixora Ixora finlaysoniana
Singapore Rhododendron Melastoma malabathricum
The Singapore Rhododendron is native to Singapore, though most definitely not found only here. It is a very resilient plant that can survive even at altitudes of 3000m and outcompete the noxious weed Imperata cylindrica which would otherwise slowly "poison" surrounding plants. Also a known hyperaccumulator of aluminium, it can be used for phytoremediation to clean up soils polluted by excessively high levels of aluminium! Its reddish stems are covered with bristly scales and minute hairs. Its fruit is a berry, which can be used to make a black dye. In traditional medicine, the leaves and roots can be used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. Don't be surprised to see many different coloured flowers of white, vibrant purple and deep violet. Bees are often attracted to its alluring blossoms and can be often seen pollinating them in our butterfly garden. Do keep a lookout and observe the bees without disturbing them.