The Royal Palms are found in neat rows along high school and JC carparks. Capable of growing up to 30m tall, they tower over almost all other trees around them. Even though there are many tall trees around the campus, none grows with the uniformity as the Royal Palms does. Unlike the MacArthur Palm, the Royal Palms do not have clustering behaviour. Some may mistake the Royal Palms for coconut because of their similarity: While they are certainly both under the palm family, one shouldn’t hope to get coconut from growing Royal Palms!
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!
Rain Tree Samanea saman
The Rain Tree, introduced to Singapore in 1976, is currently the most cultivated roadside tree. During rainy days, the leaves of the tree will droop, giving it its common name. Along with its brothers in the Heritage trees registry, the majestic, iconic Rain Trees lining our school’s terraces have also seen its fair share of Hwa Chong’s history, from the annual Founder’s Day events - including this year’s centennial celebrations - to welcoming yearly batches of new students at Orientation, cementing itself as a part of Hwa Chong’s identity. Despite their sheer size, these rain trees were not here when our school was first established. In fact, they were only planted 3 to 4 decades ago, over the former Casuarina trees. The Casuarinas used leave a mess after shedding their leaves all over the ground, and also provided little shade for the students. Consequently, they were removed and replaced with the raintrees that we see today. With its widespread, umbrella-shaped canopy, these trees are perfect for providing shade for the students and teachers in daily flag raising ceremonies and physical education classes at the field. The Rain Trees contribute significantly to the ecosystem in Hwa Chong. Using its fissured barks that retain water, it becomes an excellent host to a variety of epiphytes, such as the Bird Nest ferns and Dragonscale Ferns, while its sugary pods are found to provide food for the squirrels occasionally found wandering around the campus.
Buddhist Pine Podocarpus macrophyllus
This living fossil belongs to a genus of conifers, the Podocarpus, that traces it lineage back to 240 million years ago. Its dark green leaves are lanceolate in shape and arranged spirally. The younger leaves at the center of each cluster are lighter in colour, giving the entire tree a dynamic colour scheme. Their fruits are purple and fleshy when matured, and are often hidden in the pockets between leaf clusters. This single podocarpus is found growing amongst the Mussaendas and Yellow Elders along the road. In fact, it was planted and cared for by the Hwa Chong Outdoor Activities Club!