Kopsia fruiticosa has glossy, leathery leaves with slightly sunken veins that create a quilt-like texture. Its young stems are covered in tiny, soft hairs. A versatile ornamental shrub, Kopsia fruiticosa grows well rain or shine, whether under the bright full sun or in shade, whether in dry or wet soil. This reflects its resilience and great adaptability to the environment, which important values for our students.
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.
Butterfly Pea Clitoria ternatea
The Butterfly Pea is a member of the pea family. The sapphire blue flowers of this species are used to produce a blue dye used in colouring glutinous rice cakes (more familiarly known as Nyonya kueh) in Southeast Asia. Often used for dissection during high school biology lessons, the flowers have a distinctive free stamen among the other 9 fused stamens hidden at the center of its 3 types of petals, a feature that biology students often vividly recall.
Lemongrass is definitely a familiar plant to Singapore. It is widely used as a herb in Southeast Asian cooking, and is used in soups and curries. As an essential oil, lemongrass is antifungal, antibacterial and can act as a mosquito repellent. Consequently, it can be used as a traditional treatment for fungal infections.
Mexican Mint Plectranthus amboinicus
Like other mints, the Mexican Mint has variegated leaves and a four-angled (square) stem. Its fleshy leaves can leave a distinctive lemony smell on your hands after you touch them. They can be also be used to flavour food. The plant has been investigated for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties.