Alexandra Palms are suited to regions of heavy rainfalls and have thus they have become a common species here in Singapore. This row of palms are still in its infancy, as evident from their height. At full maturation, they are capable of growing up to 25m, similar to the tall royal palms that line the river in High School, as well as the roads in various other parts of the school. Come back and take a look at them after a few years. You will be surprised by how tall they would have grown by then!
Happiness Tree Garcinia subelliptica
This evergreen with glossy leaves boasts young flushes that are reddish-bronze in colour, which turn quickly to bright yellow-green, then finally to dark green when mature. Every high school consortium garden, opened in the 2010s, has its own Happiness Tree. They were selected because they do not shed leaves and create a mess, making the jobs of students-gardeners tending to it much easier. They started off at around the height of an average adult human. Look how much they have grown!
Willow 旱柳 Salix matsudana koidz
The 6 echoing shoutouts in one of Hwa Chong’s cheers, ‘Willow willow willow willow willow willow!’, refers to the 6 willow trees beside the Clock Tower. The willow is used for ornamental purposes. Its ethereal pendulous stem and slender leaves on their supple, dangling branches reminds one of the Rapunzel’s luxurious locks as they sway gracefully in a breeze, giving an enchanting appearance to the landscape. This was exactly the landscape that DP Mr Tan Pheng Tiong sought after as he looked for trees to complement the existing ones in school. In the past, this species of willow, also known as 旱柳 in Chinese, were seldom seen around the school. In fact, they were only planted after their close relatives, the more commonly known Weeping Willow (or 垂柳), were unable to grow well under Singapore’s hot climate and away from a water body. Soon, the Salix matsudana koidz have become a common sight within the campus, presenting a similar scenic effect as the Weeping Willow, despite having stiffer and shorter leaves.
MacArthur Palm Ptychosperma macarthurii
A clumping palm with pinnate fronds (feather-shaped divided leaf) just like the Lipstick Palm, The 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.
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.
Chinese croton Excoecaria cochinchinensis
This plant is special in that the underside of its leaves are crimson. There are a few variants: “Firestorm”, for example, has variegated leaves. Like many plants in its family, the sap is toxic and can cause allergic reactions, as well as irritation to skin and eyes. This is why it is also called the Blindness Tree. Yet, it also has anti-parasitic and haemostatic (stops bleeding) properties.