Singapore

Rain tree part of new Tree Trail in Civic District

A 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched in the Civic District will feature the ubiquitous Rain Tree that is part of our city's natural landscape. But did you know that the tree provides a habitat to a vast array of local flora and fauna? CEL GULAPA, HO YAN HAO, TEOH YI CHIE and LINETTE HENG identify some of the living things the tree is home to

EPIPHYTES

Plants that grow upon another plant and derive moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.

Pigeon Orchid This flower is pearly white, with a tinge of light sulphur yellow in the middle. Its shape resembles a pigeon when viewed from above. It has a distinctive scent and blooms for only a day, which leaves a short opportunity for pollination to take place.

Staghorn Fern It is usually found in high rainforest canopy. This fern produces three different types of leaves — large upright green photosynthesising leaves, long downward hanging leaves that have spores, and broad brown leaves that curl inwards and form a spongy centre that absorbs water and collects minerals.

Bird’s Nest Fern This large fern is commonly found at the base of the large branches. The leaves were reportedly used by a native tribe in Malaysia to ease labour pains and by Malays to create a lotion to treat fever.


REPTILES

Paradise Tree Snake This rear-fanged creature can also be found in parks and gardens. Its venom is weak and it climbs trees to hunt for tree-dwelling lizards.


MAMMALS

Plantain Squirrel This quick and agile creature can be found in the trees and in undergrowth, foraging for fruits and nuts. It is active in the day and relies on its good eyesight, sharp claws and long tail to scamper around undetected. Some squirrels build their own nests in the tree branches.

Common Palm Civet This shy, nocturnal mammal, which is more closely related to the mongoose than to the cat, prefers staying in trees and high places, and can occasionally be found on the rooftops of buildings. It is identified by the black ‘mask’ on its face.


BIRDS

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher This yellow-breasted bird hunts flying insects on short flights from its perch.

Common Iora This small bird is hard to spot because it usually hunts for insects under the tree canopy, but you can hear it singing most of the time. Its eggs are greenish-white.

Olive-backed Sunbird This small bird forages for nectar on the treetops and lower bushes by clinging to a nearby stem. It tends to be quite bold and often nests close to humans.

Black-naped Oriole This colourful bird has a distinctive bright yellow mantle and is usually found at the tree canopy. It feeds on fruits and insects and occasionally makes a melodious call.

Collared Kingfisher This bird is the most common kingfisher in Singapore and it hunts a variety of prey — fish, prawns, crabs, lizards, small snakes and insects.

Common Flameback This brightly coloured woodpecker is usually found on the lower part of the tree and is often seen in pairs. The male birds have brighter colours than the females.


INSECTS

Carpenter Bee Often mistaken for a bumblebee, it has a shiny abdomen, compared to the bumblebee’s hairy one. It is a solitary creature and often nests in the woods.

Striped Albatross This butterfly is most active in sunny weather and goes often to flowers for nectar. The wings of the male are white while the female has black wings.

Common Mormon This butterfly is often spotted flying erratically and can also be found in urban gardens. Some even mimic the toxic Common Rose to avoid predators.

Painted Jezebel This brightly coloured creature can be found fluttering around treetops in the day. It often descends to lower ground for nectar or to rest in the shade.


PARTS OF THE RAIN TREE

Leaves The leaves fold up in the evenings. That’s why Malays call it “Pukul Lima”, which means five o’clock. Leaves also close when the sky is overcast, thus the name Rain Tree.

Flower The flowers are found in clusters and are slightly fragrant. When the tree blooms, its entire crown will be covered in shades of pink and white.

Fruit The fruit of the tree is a thick, elongated pod, which is fleshy inside and has many seeds. It is 10cm to 22cm in length and ripens to a black colour

EnvironmentSingaporenational parks board