Oriental white-eyes are unmistakable with the striking white ring around their eyes. What distinguishes it from other white-eyes would be the yellow ventral stripe that goes up its grey-white belly. They love to gather around the tembusu trees near the clock tower. You can hear their cheerful and shrill “chew” calls among the leaves and branches. Sadly, these petite birds are threatened by pet trades.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica 13 cm
The adorable little bird can often be seen perching quietly on trees outside Kong Chian Administration Block. But don’t be fooled by its innocent look; its sharp beak is perfect for capturing insects. When it spots its preys, it darts out swiftly to capture insects on the wing. Without it, there will be even more mosquitos in Hwa Chong.
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos moluccensis 13 cm
One of the smallest woodpeckers, this resident woodpecker is most frequently found in mangroves and coastal areas, yet also common in gardens. This species can be deciphered from the black mask around its eyes, a brown plumage, as well as white, striated flanks and underbelly. “Dook, dook”, you can often hear it pecking wood in the campus.
Dragon Blood Tree Dracaena cochinchinensis
The Dragon Blood Tree is an evergreen tree particularly distinctive for long, thin trunks spread wide apart, with elongated leaves growing as a cluster at the end of each branch. This particular species is native to Thailand. The name “Dracaena” is a Greek word for dragon, referring to the deep red resin in their trunks - similar to that of a dragon’s blood. Usually, these plants are grown for ornamental purposes. There used to be another Dracaena of similar size growing beside the one shown in the picture. However, it collapsed due to its own weight. Now, a younger tree has been planted in place of the previous one. Due to the medicinal properties of their resin, Dracaenas have become a vulnerable species in other parts of the world, particularly in China.
Pinwheel Flower Tabernaemontana divaricata
The smooth, milky white petals of flowers have twisted tips that are arranged in a stellate blossom, just like a spinning pinwheel. Many of these flowers will be found strewn on the lawn under the tree after heavy rain - they must have twirled and danced all the way in their descent to the ground!
Sago Cycad Cycas revoluta
The Sago Cycad was planted in 2017 by then-Principal Dr Hon Chiew Weng, just before his retirement, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the school throughout his teaching career. Despite its Chinese name, this plant should not be mistaken for a tree. In fact, the earliest Cycads date back to around 300 million years ago--a true living fossil! Named “忠树” (which directly translates to “loyalty tree”), Dr Hon wishes that all Hwa Chong students remain eternally faithful and true-hearted to the people around them.
The Ixora blooms with stunning clusters of red, yellow, pink or orange flowers. The Ixora is a common flower in Singapore. Some of us are aware that one could pluck out its corolla tube, and enjoy a sweet shot of nectar from the other end! When in full bloom, the neatly trimmed bushes line Tan Kah Kee Drive with a thick ribbon of crimson blossoms. What a sight to behold! Kudos to our skillful gardeners who help to maintain these beautiful bushes all year long.
Tembusu Fagraea fragrans
We still have quite a few Tembusu trees in our school. This is also the very species of tree that appears on our $5 notes. Due to their height, they are often seen towering over buildings and other trees, and can even be observed all the way from the Holistic Education Centre in JC. The Tembusu trees are part of the primary forest cover on this land before the school was built - consequently, they are easily over a hundred years old. Despite their age and historical value, these trees were almost chopped down some years long ago. As a result, you will realise that they often have one or more stumps. Luckily, these trees were able to survive the ordeal. Do not be fooled by the pictures, all of these trunks belong to the same tree!
Yellow Bells Tecoma stans
All of the Yellow Bells in the school are donated by alumnus Mr Mak Chin On. Many of these were grown in clusters all over the JC side in 2005, for the purpose of having more flowering trees to beautify our school landscape. Yellow Bells are used for ornamental purposes due to their distinctive bright golden corollas that resemble miniature trumpets, or jingle bells on a Christmas tree. They also have pods containing layers of papery, winged seeds which disperse by wind. Considered to be a ruderal species, these plants can often grow on rocky land. With countless flowers blooming on each tree at the same time, they certainly brighten the scenery and lightens the mood of students walking past them!