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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge

A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge
Welcome! This page is intended to be an online resource for the use of teachers, students, and the general public. Within you can find information on the vegetation of Kent Ridge, as well as descriptions of the various common species of plants that can be found there. The Introduction is a brief essay on various aspects of Ridge vegetation, while the Plants page gives simple descriptions of plant life, as well as an artificial key to aid in identifying common Ridge trees. The References section gives a list of books and articles for further reading.

Introduction Plants References

This webpage done Dec 2001 by Brandon Seah for the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

Introduction
There is an interesting variety of plant life on Kent Ridge. This guide attempts to be an introduction to common species that can be found along the edge of the Kent Ridge forest that runs alongside the stretch of Kent Ridge Road from the Central Library to the staircase behind the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology building. Both natives and naturalized exotics are mentioned. Choose from the links below to access various parts of the introduction.

Adinandra belukar Plant Overview Succession Land Use History Soil Erosion Exotics Plant-Animal Interactions Adaptations The Future

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

Introduction -- Adinandra belukar
The type of vegetation found on the Ridge is known as Adinandra belukar, as Adinandra dumosa is its characteristically most commonly found tree, and 'belukar' is Malay for secondary forest. Secondary forest is forest that grows on ground that has been previously cleared of its original vegetation (primary forest) or disturbed significantly. It is different from primary vegetation in many ways. For example, the species of plants growing in secondary forests are different from those in primary forests, and are more adapted to life in its different conditions. These different conditions include increased light intensity, lower humidity, higher temperatures, etc. In order to survive and be successful, plants in secondary forests also have to grow quickly and be easily and widely dispersed, so that they may colonize newly disturbed ground before other plants do. Adinandra belukar is found on degraded land, whereas another type of belukar, Trema belukar, dominated by Trema sp. and similar plants is found in naturally occurring gaps in primary forest, where the soil is still rich in nutrients and not degraded.

Adinandra belukar was first qualitatively described by Holttum (1954a), and later by Sim et al (1992). Wee and Corlett (1986) have given a semi-popular account of secondary vegetation in Singapore, and Corlett (1991) has described the various stages of development in Singapore's secondary vegetation based on studies in the Central Catchment area. In general, belukar has several distinct differences from primary forest. Firstly, its floristic diversity is much lower, with more plants per species per unit area than primary forest. Secondly, temperature and humidity fluctuations are much greater. The belukar is highly exposed to the elements, hence in the day it is very warm and during the night it is very cool. It is much drier too, for the belukar's average minimum relative humidity is 62% whereas primary forests experience at least 76%. Thirdly, the soil is much poorer, lacking various nutrients due to its previous uses. Rain and other erosive agents wash away humus and organic material as well. In short, belukar is hotter, drier, and poorer than primary forests. Its various aspects are explored in detail
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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

below.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

Introduction -- Plant Overview
The dominant plant on the Ridge (Sim et al, 1992; Holttum, 1954a) is Adinandra dumosa, the Tiup Tiup, which is a small tree with reddish young leaves and small creamy white flowers. Other common plants include Melastoma malabathricum, the Singapore Rhododendron, that has pretty purple flowers and an edible dark purple fruit; Ficus grossularioides, a fig with leaves that show great variation in form, ranging from deeply lobed to ellipsoid; Myrica esculenta, a small shrubby plant which has leaves that are spirally arranged; Dillenia suffruticosa, Simpoh Air (Ayer), a prominent plant that has large thick leaves, bright yellow flowers, and bright red star-shaped fruits; and Rhodamnia cinerea, the Silverback, so called because the underside of its leaves are a glossy whitish colour. A commonly seen tree that is not native but introduced is Acacia auriculiformis, a tree with a messy looking crown and sickleshaped 'leaves' (actually modified stems or phylloclades) as well as abundant sprays of yellow flowers. It is a native of northern Australia, the Torres Straits, and southern Papua New Guinea (Boland et al, 1990). Furthermore, there are several types of herbaceous plants in the belukar. The most prominent would be the species of Nepenthes, or the pitcher plants. They are insectivorous, and trap insects and other small creatures in their jug-like pitchers, which contain a liquid that has digestive enzymes, acting almost like a stomach in digesting what it traps for additional nutrients, which it needs due to the poor nutrient content of the soil. The terrestrial orchid Bromheadia finlaysoniana is also present, which has pinkish flowers.

Very commonly seen is the Resam, Dicranopteris linearis, a sun loving fern that blankets large areas of bare land and prevents other plants from establishing themselves there. Resam is considered a harmful weed to agriculture, and it needs to be cut flush to the ground and sprayed with lime to be stopped (O'Hara, 1926). Notable in their absence are the epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants without harming them (hence not parasites). Before humans came to disturb and clear the forest, causing the development of secondary forests, these
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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

belukar plants were usually confined to limestone cliff forests and other similar environments which have conditions similar to those found in belukar land. (Corlett, 1991)

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

Introduction -- Succession
These plants are not usually found in primary undisturbed forest. In South East Asia, the forests are characterized by the presence of dipterocarps, members of the family Dipterocarpaceae, which is known for its winged seeds and good timber. When these are cleared from the land, or when gaps appear in the forest, the plants which emerge to quickly take over the land are known as pioneers. As mentioned above, they tend to grow quickly as well as flower and fruit fast. They are also better dispersed than dipterocarps, hence pioneers can get to the open land faster than the dipterocarps. The exposed nature of gaps and clearings also is unsuitable for many primary forest plants, which have adapted to the humid and shaded climate of the understorey, that is the part of the forest covered by the foliage canopies of trees.

Eventually, the vegetation will recover from the clearing or disturbance, and revert to its original state. This process is known as 'succession', so called because different types of plants succeed each other as conditions change. Corlett described four stages of succession on degraded land in Singapore. In stage 1, the recently cleared and abandoned land is invaded by herbaceous and smaller woody pioneers and there is no distinct foliage canopy, in stage 2, the woody pioneers form a canopy over the ground, and eventually shade out the herbaceous pioneers, which need light for full growth. In stage 3, a transition occurs and the pioneers are slowly replaced by a different set of species, and this culminates in stage 4, the tall secondary forest. Previously, a distinction had been made between the so-called low and tall secondary forests, the former being shorter than 10 metres, and the latter being taller. (Hill, 1977) However, this separation is rather arbitrary. Stages 1 and 2 also appear to correspond with the old concepts of belukar muda ('muda' is Malay for 'young') and belukar tua ('tua' is Malay for 'old'). At present, Kent Ridge appears to be at stage 2 of Corlett's model of succession, being still dominated by the original species of pioneers.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction

The 'original state', or 'climax' that the Ridge belukar should revert to is the lowland tropical dipterocarp rainforest (Whitemore, 1975). However, this will take an extremely long time, as dipterocarps (as mentioned above) are very poorly dispersed. The seeds, although winged, can only fly up to a maximum of 100 metres (100 yards) in a very strong wind, and according to Ridley (1930), dipterocarps take about 30 years to reach maturity and start fruiting, hence in the most ideal case, they would take 58666 years to cover 100 miles of land, and this is discounting other threats to dipterocarp survival, e.g. the need to be tall to catch drafts of fast wind, and the possibility of the seeds being consumed by rodents. In order for the belukar to proceed beyond stage 2, new species of plants from the older forest need to recolonize the land. However, Kent Ridge is in the middle of the urban jungle, and the only sources of seed for these plants are several kilometers away in Bukit Timah and the Central Catchment area, the former being the only primary forest in Singapore, and the latter the most mature secondary forest. (Corlett, 1992) Hence, in this state of isolation, the future of Ridge vegetation is uncertain.

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Introduction -- Land Use History
Adinandra belukar occurs on land that has been degraded by agriculture and development, then subsequently abandoned. It reflects the common pattern of historical land use in Singapore over the years. The land of the Ridge has seen various types of uses. Prior to 1845, the area was probably covered by undisturbed lowland rainforest that now can only be seen in Bukit Timah. From about 1845 to 1945, the Ridge was covered by settlements and was used for rubber plantations. Some rubber trees still persist on the Ridge, and Holttum (1954a) reports seeing old and dying rubber trees along the Gap, where Buona Vista Road cuts through the Ridge. From 1945-1959, the plantations were largely abandoned, being unproductive after having exhausted the soil of its nutrients, and the primary land use was residential and military. From 1959-1970, the area used for residential purposes increased, and from 1970 to the present, the Ridge is largely known for housing the National University of Singapore campus. In addition, associated with the settlements and kampungs on the ridge were small-scale agricultural holdings, planting vegetables and fruits, e.g. tapioca (Manihot esculenta), sugarcane (Saccharum officinarium), banana (Musa paradisica), etc. Hence, some of these cultivated plants may have escaped into the Ridge vegetation. Horticultural plants, for example the Money Plant (Epipremum bipinnatum) are also present on the Ridge. The presence of the human settlements also resulted in settlers collecting wood for firewood, and this has caused some degree of damage as well.

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Introduction -- Soil Erosion
The intensive land use on the Ridge has resulted in very deep erosion and weathering of its soil (12-25 m). As such, the humus (organic matter) content of the soil is low, and its nature strongly reflects the characteristics of the rocks that lie underneath. The rocks on Kent Ridge are from three formations: the Kallang, Tekong, and Jurong formations (Public Utilities Board, 1976). These are mostly sandstone and mudstone formations, and so the soils they form are mostly sediment that is deficient in many forms of plant nutrients. The soil is known to be deficient in potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) (Lee, 1995); hence Ridge plants have to be well adapted to grow under such conditions. The evidence for the deep erosion of the soil is the numerous boulders that can be seen in several places along Kent Ridge Road. While there is leaf litter present, the humus layer is much thinner compared to primary forest, and even more so in areas covered by grass. Organic matter on the ground acts as a 'sponge' to absorb water when the rain comes, (Holttum, 1954b) so without it, the water holding capacity of the soil is reduced. Kent Ridge soil exhibits high surface runoff and a compact nature. (Sim, 1991; Mudaliar, 1984) Therefore, water is not absorbed and retained well by the soil, instead flowing off; in addition, the soil is poorly aerated. Together with the higher soil temperature, due to the greater light penetration to the surface compared with primary forests, this causes the environment to be drier than primary forest, hence pioneer belukar plants have to be adapted to lower water availability. Ironically, while the open nature of the canopy causes higher rainfall penetration to the ground, this results in erosion of the soil that eventually causes the water deficiency. The acidity of the soil is also high, and this can decrease the solubility and hence availability of macronutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus, while increasing the solubility of toxic substances like aluminum. Therefore, only plants that can tolerate this can survive. The relative absence of legumes (members of the family Leguminosae [Fabaceae]), except for the exotic Acacia, means that they cannot carry out their nitrogen fixing function for the soil.

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Introduction -- Exotics
There are many exotic plants that have invaded the Ridge belukar. Many of these are pan-tropical weeds of the Compositae (Asteraceae), as well as alien grasses and sedges that have been introduced. This might be due to Kent Ridge being enveloped in an urban area, and since Singapore was, and still is, a busy trading port, many of these may have followed traders in from overseas. Woody alien plants are also present. The most prominent of these, and also the most successful, is Acacia auriculiformis, the Wattle, which is a native of northern Australia, the Torres Straits, and southern Papua New Guinea. It was brought to this region as a horticultural plant and also as a source of timber, and Nicholson (1965) calls it "...a very useful tree, especially for replanting waste areas...." Hill (1977) notes that it was planted in Kent Ridge itself along the Gap. The tree was also used as a wayside tree by the government before being abandoned because of its excessively vigorous growth and rapid dispersal. Other trees along Kent Ridge Road are also possibly planted as wayside trees, for example Adenanthera pavonina, the Saga tree, as well as Causuarina equisetifolia, which is found naturally on sandy shores. But Acacia is still the most common exotic, and this is due to several factors. Firstly, it is well suited to the dry and exposed environment of the belukar, and also has tough leaves like native belukar plants. Secondly, its growth is fast, and it matures rapidly, competing with the natives for light and nutrients. Thirdly, being a legume, its associated root nodules can fix nitrogen and give it an edge in growth. Fourthly, its brightly coloured yellow aril attract birds which feed on its numerous seeds that are produced year round and hence disperse the plant. As can be seen, even though it is an exotic that has evolved in a different area from this region, it shares many characteristics and adaptations with belukar plants and hence is able to compete favourably with them.

As mentioned above, horticultural plants and food plants have "escaped" from peoples' gardens to grow wild on the Ridge. It was quite surprising for the author to stumble upon a patch of
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Sanseviera sp. growing wild in the shade of the belukar trees. Epipremnum, the money plant, can also be seen climbing up trees together with the native Smilax spp. These weeds may compete with the native plants and smother them out, or compete with them for nutrients, and hence reduce plant diversity. Veldkamp (2001) complained about how tropical flora is becoming increasingly homogenized, and in the belukar, where plant diversity is already significantly less than primary forest, the threat of exotics is quite great. However, the exotics are established mostly at the edge of the forest, where human disturbance is the greatest, and the conditions are the best for their growth. It can be observed that even plants as successful as Acacia still have not penetrated to the core of the belukar forest, though in time they may.

Other foreign invaders include Mimosa pudica, the sensitive plant, and Lantana camara, one of the top ten weeds worldwide. With the increased exposure of the Ridge to external influences and urbanization, the belukar will be increasingly infiltrated by plants that 'should not be there'. At present the belukar natives are holding their own, but the future is somewhat uncertain. According to Mudaliar (1987), two-thirds of belukar plant species are natives. While it compares favourably with other forms of land use, e.g. urban green space, residential, etc., it is much less than primary forests.

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Introduction -- Plant-Animal Interactions
Plants and animals interact in many ways, both mutually beneficial and antagonistic. The most important ways they can help each other are dispersal and pollination. Many examples can be found in Ridley (1930).

Dispersal Dispersal is important for the pioneer belukar plants to be widely distributed and more successful in the secondary forests. The majority of belukar plants are dispersed by animals, especially birds and bats, which are highly mobile creatures. Many of the plants have edible fruits, which are consumed by the animals and then spread over a wide range when the animals excrete the seeds in their faeces. Belukar plants tend to flower and fruit at a young age, each fruit tends to have many seeds. For example, Chin (1970) reports that Melastoma has between 394-1472 seeds per fruit, while Adinandra has between 83-189. The seeds are also very light and small, e.g. Adinandra seeds are an average of 0.948 mg, those of Fagraea, 0.269 mg, etc. All these factors contribute to their ease of dispersal. Compared to the dipterocarps, as mentioned above, they make use of the mobility of animals to help them in dispersal. Hence, they can colonize newly abandoned land with great vigour.

Phua and Corlett (1989) report that the Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat, Cynopterus brachyotis, consumes a wide variety of fruits, including a significant number of the belukar plants, like Adinandra, Fagraea, Vitex pinnata, etc. Cynopterus tends to fly to the fruits, bite them from the tree, then fly away to another place to consume the flesh of the fruit and drop the seeds before flying back for more. Because of this behavior of the bat, the seeds are dispersed over a wider area than they would if the bats simply stay in place to consume the fruits.

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Birds also feed on a wide variety of fruits. The Yellow Vented Bulbul feeds on Rhodamnia, Melastoma, Cinnamomum etc., while the Turtle Dove feeds on Melastoma, which Ridley (1930) said was "one of the first bushes to appear in the waste fields of lalang grass, where the seeds are dropped by pigeons and bulbuls." Bulbuls also tend to go after the seeds of Dillenia, perhaps attracted by the bright red colour of the arils. The successful exotic, Acacia auriculiformis, is also dispersed by birds, which are attracted to its seeds by the bright yellow arils. In fact, seeds of Melastoma germinate better after passing through the digestive tract of a bird. (Chin, 1970)

In more mature secondary forests, monkeys are active dispersal agents, '"attacking vigorously" the fruits of Eugenia, Passiflora, etc. However, they are not commonly encountered on the Ridge, though a number were sighted a few years back and may or may not still be present. Finally, there is the interesting case of Ploiarium alternifolium, another pioneer plant, where the seed capsules dehisce (split) on the plant, and rain washes them down to be dispersed.

Pollination Pollination is carried out by many insects. Turner notes that carpenter bees (Xylocopa latipes) can be seen pollinating Dillenia and Melastomain Singapore. In addition, the figs, Ficus spp. are famously pollinated by the tiny fig wasps, which lay their eggs in the figs. The eggs then hatch and the wasps mate. The males die and the females squeeze out of the fig to lay their eggs, and in the process pick up pollen. When they enter other figs to lay their eggs, they deposit the pollen and hence pollinate the figs.

Myrmecophytes Macaranga triloba, the Mahang, is a plant that can be found in Adinandra belukar though more commonly in Trema belukar. It is a myrmecophyte, literally meaning an "ant plant". Its stem is hollow, as the pith within disintegrates just behind the meristem (growing tip). Within the hollow, ants of the species Crematogaster borneensis establish their colonies. Small holes
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along the stem can be seen where the ants enter and exit. The plant also provides small white food bodies for the ants to feed on. In return, the ants protect the plant against foreign invading insects and other small creatures. The ants also bite off the growing tips of plants that come near the Macaranga plant, hence preventing vines and other plants from growing over and smothering it.

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Introduction -- Adaptations
Strategists According to MacArthur and Wilson's (1967) theory of island biogeography, there are two kinds of ways which plants can adapt and strategize to adapt to their conditions. The so called rstrategists are herbs which are short lived, light demanding, and have biomass mostly to produce large amounts of seeds. On the other hand, ideal K-strategists are slow growing longlived trees with biomass used to produce a large stature, and have shade tolerant seedlings, and have larger, fewer and poorly dispersed seeds. The former is adapted to rapidly changing environments, being able to quickly grow and disperse its seeds so that at least some may survive to continue the lineage, while the latter is adapted to stable, unchanging environments. As can be seen, belukar plants are more rstrategists. They are adapted in many ways to survive and be more successful in the belukar environment. As mentioned above, there are many environmental factors they have to contend with.

Water To deal with the low amounts of water available to them, belukar plants have thick and small leaves, (Turner & Tan, 1991) with more dry weight per unit area than primary rainforest plants, which, according to Whitmore (1975), tend to have large and thin leaf laminas. Furthermore, Adinandra belukar plants have tough and sclerophyllous leaves in comparison with Trema belukar plants (Boo, 1996), most likely since the latter have more water available to them in a more humid environment. According to Chee (1987), rhizosclereids can be found in Adinandra, and astrosclereids in Fagraea. He also reports the texture of most belukar plants as coriaceous or chartaceous, qualitatively confirming the tough nature of the leaves. Having tough leaves may also be a form of protection against animals consuming the foliage, as they would tend to choose softer and tender leaves for consumption. (Choong et al, 1992) Furthermore, pioneer plants tend to have low resistance to water transport (Bazzaz, 1996). Adinandra, Melastoma, and
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Ploiarium also have young in-curled leaves, possibly to reduce water loss by transpiration by creating a small zone of more humid air around the leaves. In addition, most important belukar species have about 2 layers of cells in the upper palisade mesophyll layer in their leaves, except for Vitex (1) and Fagraea (4-5). This is probably also another means of preventing water loss through the leaves. Dicranopteris, the sun loving fern, has a waxy cuticle layer on both sides of its fronds, as well has having a closely arranged palisade mesophyll layer, a tactic to save water. In addition, the stomata in Dicranopteris fronds are sunken and surrounded by raised cells, which create pockets of humid air around stomata to reduce water loss. The waxy cuticle on the underside of Dicranopteris is flaky, and hence may act as 'heat fins' to dissipate excess heat as the plant is often in direct sunlight. (Silachart, 1995)

Growth and Photosynthesis In order to have successful establishment and dispersal, belukar plants mature very fast. For example, 6 day old Adinandra and Fagraea plants already have primary roots covered in root hairs. Macaranga spp., another common pioneer plant, produces lateral roots when only 1-4 days old. (Chin, 1970) Fast root growth is important to get water, which is more important for young seedlings than mature plants. Belukar seedlings are also light demanding, needing a lot of light for good growth. This gives them an advantage over the shade-loving forest-floor herbs found in the understorey of primary forests. Their rapid growth results in the mature plants being tall and thin, almost pole like. Hence venturing into a belukar forest is somewhat like walking into a forest of poles. Turner et al (1994) report that primary forest herbs are rarely found in mature secondary forest in the Central Catchment area, perhaps due to their aversion to such environments. They have high photosynthetic rates, and high light saturation intensities. Their maximal photosynthetic rates are higher than primary plants. Hence, they can better cope with the greater light exposure in belukar, and the high rate of photosynthesis means that the plant can generate more biomass quickly and grow rapidly. However, the photosynthetic apparatus of belukar plants is not very efficient, and Boo (1996) suggests that this might be due to insufficient nutrients being channeled to it. Interestingly, a light-demanding
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plant like Dicranopteris may experience having too much light as it tends to grow in exposed places, hence to cope with that problem it has undulations on the surface of its fronds that reflect of some of the incident light, reducing light intensity and the possibility of photodamage to plant cells. (Silachart, 1995)

Nutrition Nutritionally, the soils are deficient. Therefore, the plants which grow in belukar need to survive on low nutrient concentrations. In fact, high nutrient concentration may even be toxic to belukar plants. Nepenthes spp. attempt to supplement the little nitrogen they can get from the soil by having developed pitchers, which are mentioned above. They digest insects and even small animals (although some creatures can survive in the pitchers) to give more nutrients. Their presence in belukar is a very good indicator of the nutrient poverty of the soil. Although legumes (except for the exotic Acacia) are not commonly found in belukar, Myrica esculenta, a common plant on the Ridge, forms an association with Frankia (an actinomycete) that forms root nodules that fix nitrogen (Sim, 1991).

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Introduction -- The Future
Kent Ridge is being increasingly developed. The patches of forest remaining are being isolated and surrounded by developments, e.g. housing, the various Institutes newly built along the Ridge, etc. In addition, the Ridge is treated as wasteland or a free 'dumping ground' by contractors, and piles of building refuse can sometimes be seen along the road. Kent Ridge is highly isolated from other natural areas, and its increased fragmentation will lead to a manifestation of the 'edge effect', where the edge:area ratio is high. Hence, the fronts from which external influences can affect the Ridge will increase. Drying winds blowing through the forest reduce its humidity, and rainfall coming in washes away humus. Hence, the forest is effectively being prevented from carrying out its natural rehabilitative functions. As such, the soil and the flora of the Ridge may permanently remain poor, exacerbated by its distance from sources of seed for the further stages of succession to proceed. Buildings and other structures also store up heat during the day and release it during the night, hence radiating heat into the forest due to its close proximity. This affects both the plant growth and animal life.

Transects of the Ridge (Mudaliar, 1984) have shown interesting results. Land on the Ridge is mostly urban, belukar, or abandoned open land. Acacia can be found in belukar and abandoned areas. Plants like Cinnamomum iners have escaped to abandoned land too. However, most trees in belukar are restricted to it, especially natives, notably Adinandra itself, and have not escaped to abandoned open land. Some plants that are not conventional belukar plants, like Durio zibethinus (Durian), Pterocarpus indicus (Angsana) and Tabebuia sp. (Tabebuia, an ornamental) are present there. The first is probably from settlements and villages, the second was planted as a wayside tree by the government, and the last can be found in some private gardens on the Ridge. Other non-belukar plants that can be found there are Millettia artopurpurea, Cassia spp., Areca catechu, and others. From the trends, it seems that most of the belukar 'invaders' are from one of three sources:
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cultivated as food in former kampungs, planted as wayside trees by the government, or horticultural shrubs from private gardens. Not many belukar plants are successful in colonizing land outside the belukar, perhaps because the conditions are different than from the original disturbances in which they first established themselves about 50 years ago. In particular, Nepenthes is not commonly seen outside the belukar. A possible reason is that its pitchers are highly in demand by collectors and the merely curious, hence it cannot grow under such duress.

In view of the various factors involved, it would be interesting to see how the forest on the Ridge develops in response to them. But in spite of its invasion and admittedly poor diversity (compared to primary forests), the belukar is still 'natural' and has a function to play. Within the forest, away from the bustle of the urban areas, many species of birds and animals still survive in the heart of the city. Many species of insects and invertebrates are also present, and require the leaf litter and shaded conditions of the forest to survive. As mentioned above, the birds and bats feed on the fruits of the belukar plants, and we humans can think of this in a favourable light, as we would rather them do so than loiter in our food centers and canteens. But still, the Ridge should be preserved for its own sake. After all, Holttum first described the belukar from the Ridge, and it has historical value as well. Allowing people to recreate on the Ridge, which is a public place after all, will give them a better appreciation of nature, even if in a modified form.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Plants
There are many different species of plants on the Ridge. This section aims to give a simple guide to identifying some of the more common species. Scientific Nomenclature is a brief essay on how plants are named scientifically. The Artificial Key aids in identifying the common tree species by easily-noticeable characteristics. Individual Descriptions gives plant-by-plant descriptions.

Scientific Nomenclature Artificial Key Individual Descriptions

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Plants -- Scientific Nomeclature
The plant kingdom (Kingdom Plantae) is divided into various divisions. The seed plants are in the Division Spermatophyta, the ferns and fern-allies are in Division Pteridophyta, etc. Within a division are various subdivisions. For Division Spermatophyta, the two subdivisions are Gymnospermae and Angiospermae. The latter are the angiosperms, the flowering plants. The subdivisions are further divided into classes, for Angiospermae, the classes are the Dicotylodonae and the Monocotyledonae. The classes are further subdivided into orders. Names of orders generally have the suffix -ales. For example, the Rose Order is Rosales. Within each order are one or more families. Names of families generally have the suffix aceae, though for historical reasons, the old names of some important families are retained, for example, the Leguminosae (Bean Family) is also known as Fabaceae. A family is a group of plants which are closely related to each other. However, within some large families may be subfamilies. These are indicated by the suffix -oideae. For example, within the Leguminosae (Fabaceae) are the Mimosoideae, Caesalpinoideae, and the Papilionoideae. For very large families, the subfamilies may be further divided into tribes, which are indicated by the suffix eae. For example, within the subfamily Mimosoideae is the tribe Adenanthereae. Every plant species is given a name, known as a binomial, because it is split into two parts: the genus (plural genera) and the specific epithet or the species name. For example, the saga tree is known as Adenanthera pavonina, with Adenanthera being the genus and pavonina being the specific epithet. Several species may fall under the same genus.

The name is in the Latin language, for various reasons. Firstly, Latin is a 'dead' language and hence does not change, unlike modern languages. Hence, the name can possibly remain in place forever without the language becoming obsolete. Secondly, the same plant can have many different names in various parts of the world, or the same name might be applied to many different plants. Hence, having a single universal name will aid communication among scientists and even the layman.
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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Thirdly, Latin was the language of science in Europe in the past. Carl von Linne, also known as Carolus Linneaus, the famous naturalist who devised this system, first described most of the plants known then in a monumental work, the Species Plantarum. The book was written in Latin, and the standard set forth in his work is followed till today. The binomial is always italicized, the genus name is always capitalized, and the specific epithet is not capitalized. After the binomial can be found some abbreviations, e.g. Adenanthera pavonina L. These are the authors or authority, the abbreviated name of the first person who described the plant in a scientific work. For example, "L." stands for Linneaus, "Ridl." stands for H. N. Ridley, etc. Some plants may have been described by various authors as different plants, hence there may be synonyms, for example, Ficus grossularioides is also known as Ficus alba, hence it might be written Ficus grossularioides (=F. alba).

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Plants -- Artificial Key
Artificial Key To Common Belukar Tree Species A. Compound Leaves Leaves palmate, usually 5 leaflets, middle leaflet largest, spear-shaped Leaves not palmate Leaflets inverted triangular, tree is a palm Leaflets large, oblong arranged in two rows, 1214 pairs, fruit globose berries in umbels, leaves spirally arranged Simple Leaves Large leaves (~30 cm length), veins thick and prominent, flowers yellow and showy, fruit star-shaped and splitting open to show red insides Leaves generally <30 cm long

B.

... Vitex pinnata

B. C.

... Caryota mitis

C.

... Arthrophyllum diversifolium

A.

B.

... Dillenia suffruticosa

B.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

C.

D. D.

E.

E.

C.

D.

D.

E.

E.

3-5 prominent veins running from base to apex Underside of leaves silverywhite Underside of leaves not white Young leaves pink, flowers small on umbellate inflorescence Young leaves not pink, leaves narrow, purple flowers, fruit numerousseeded and with deep-purple flesh 3-5 prominent veins not present Underside of leaves white, sessile fruit borne on leaf axis Underside of leaves not white Deeply fissured trunk, flowers fragrant, branches spreading No deep fissures on trunk

... Rhodamnia cinerea

... Cinnamomum iners

... Melastoma malabathricum

... Ficus grossularioides

... Fagraea fragrans

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Intermarginal veins present, F. leaves coarse and waxy No intermarginal F. veins Leaves actually phylloclades, sickle-shaped, numerous small G. yellow flowers in sprays among phylloclades Leaves not G. sickle-shaped, not phylloclades Leaves spirally H. arranged Leaves ~5 cm long, fruits small I. red berries along short stalks Leaves 7-10 cm long, fruts I. dehiscing capsules Leaves alternate in two rows, H. cream-coloured small flowers

... Eugenia sp.

... Acacia auriculiformis

... Myrica esculenta

... Ploiarium alternifolium

... Adinandra dumosa

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Plants -- Individual Species
Prominent characters which allow easy identification are in bold. Descriptions are based on personal observations of living plants on the ridge, herbarium specimens deposited at the herbarium of the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (SINU), as well as several publications (Keng, 1983,1990; Keng et al, 1998). Information on the uses of plants are primarily from Burkill (1968), Sarawak Forestry Department (1954), and Wee (1992). Other sources are cited in the text. Nomenclature follows Turner, Chua, & Tan (1990).

Trees and Shrubs Climbers Herbs

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Plants -- Trees and Shrubs

By Scientific Name Acacia auriculiformis Adenanthera pavonina Adinandra dumosa Arthrophyllum diversifolium Cinnamomum iners Dillenia suffruiticosa Fagraea fragrans Ficus grossularioides Manihot esculenta Melastoma malabathricum Millettia atropurpurea Myrica esculenta Ploiarium alternifolium Rhodamnia cinerea Vitex pinnata

By Common Name Cicada Tree Common Ivy Palm Leban Malay Gale Purple Millettia Saga tree Silverback Simpoh Air Singapore Rhododendron Tapioca

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Tembusu Tiup-Tiup Wattle White-leafed Fig Wild Cinnamon

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Wattle

Scientific Name: Acacia auriculiformis A. Cunn. ex Benth. Common Name: Wattle Order: Rosales Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae) -- Bean Family Subfamily: Papilionoideae -- Bean Subfamily Description: This is a medium tree reaching up to 10-15 m tall in open spaces, with a messy-looking crown. The leaves are actually phylloclades (cladophylls), that is, modified lengths of stem with the same functions as leaves. The real leaves are evident only in young seedlings. The phylloclades are long, thin, and sickle or crescent shaped with several parallel veins. The flowers are small and borne in short sprays about 510 cm in length, and these can be seen from the ground as they are quite numerous. The fruit pod curls up into a spiraled dark brown ring when dry, forcing out the small 1 cm long ovoid black seeds attached to bright yellow or orange arils, that birds seem to favour. It is a native of northern Australia, the Torres Straits, and southern Papua New Guinea, and is now a naturalized citizen of Singapore. Use: This is one of a few Acacia spp. that succeeded in growing in Singapore. It has been used as a timber, firewood, and for reafforestation. Few species of Acacia are suited to the local climate and soil, however, A. auriculiformis is quite successful locally, and has been planted as an ornamental. Its cousin, A. mangium, is planted for timber in Malaysia.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Saga Tree

Scientific Name: Adenanthera pavonina L. Common Name: Saga tree Order: Rosales Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae) -- Bean Family Subfamily: Mimosoideae - Mimosa Subfamily Description: The tree was planted as a wayside tree however some have strayed wild into the belukar on the Ridge. Leaves are compound and pinnate. Each leaflet is about 2-3 cm across and somewhat ovate and dark green. The flowers are not very prominent, having white petals and yellow anthers. The fruits are dry pods that split and curl up when ripe, twisting out bright red seeds about 1 cm across that litter the ground below the tree, and are often collected by children and even adults. Uses: The seeds have been used very often in arts and crafts, being made into necklaces, beads, etc. The tree is a popular wayside tree, in part also because of its seeds. A project is underway at the Singapore Science Centre to collect 1 million saga seeds, and the seeds collected so far can be viewed in a large plastic tub in one of its galleries.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Tiup-tiup

Scientific Name: Adinandra dumosa Jack. Common Name: Tiup-Tiup, Semapak, Entupak, Medang Berorok Order: Guttiferales Family: Theaceae -- Tea Family Description: A. dumosa is the dominant tree in belukar, and this form of vegetation is named after it. Small to medium sized tree, growing up to 15 metres tall, in the middle of the forest its form appears like a long tall pole, whereas at the edge the foliage can reach down quite close to the ground. The leaves are reddish-pink when young. They are arranged alternately in two rows. When mature, they are somewhat pale, oblongelliptic and leathery, somewhat waxy. The flowers are small, about 1 cm across, rounded and creamy-white. Their petals remain closed even when mature. The fruits are berries, also about 1 cm across and the style is persistent on it. It flowers and fruits year-round. Its wood is quite dense. Uses: It grows well on poor soils and amid lalang (Imperata cylindrica, a weedy grass common in abandoned land), and is resistant to fires, although its wood is not used very often for building permanent structures. However, it is strong and used for house building, temporary structures, firewood, doorposts, planking, roofing timbers, and for the bases of walls. It is durable if kept dry.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Common Ivy Palm

Scientific Name: Arthrophyllum diversifolium Bl. (= A. ovalifolium Miq.) Common Name: Common Ivy Palm Order: Umbellales Family: Araliaceae -- Ginseng Family Description: Small to medium sized tree. It has large compound leaves arranged in spirals or whorls around the stem. The leaflets, about 20 cm long each, are numerous and arranged in two rows, about 12-14 pairs. The stem is covered in fine golden hairs near the growing tip that are easily scraped off. Old leaves falling off leave leaf scars along the branch. The flowers are green; inflorescence is an umbel, produced near the top of the branch. The fruits are small black berries about 1 cm across and also borne on an umbel. Uses: Wood is of little use.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Wild Cinnamon

Scientific Name: Cinnamomum iners Reinw. ex Bl. Common Name: Wild Cinnamon, Kayu Manis, Medang Tija Order: Ranales Family: Lauraceae -- Cinnamon Family Description: It is a small or medium sized tree, sometimes planted as an ornamental tree because of its pretty foliage. The young leaves are reddish-pink and tender, while the mature leaves are dark green. There are three veins running from the base of the leaf. The flowers are borne in panicles and appear creamy when young. The fruits are blue-black and dispersed by birds. Uses: The bark has the trade name "mesui" in Sarawak and Brunei, and an extract of it is used medicinally and during confinement after pregnancy.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Simpoh Air

Scientific Name: Dillenia suffruiticosa (Griff.) Mart. (=Wormia suffruticosa) Common Name: Simpoh Air (Ayer) Order: Guttiferales Family: Dilleniaceae -- Dillenia Family Description: This is a common large shrub found very often by the edge of the forest. The leaves are very large, thick, and waxy, from 15-35 cm long, and are elliptic to oblong with a rounded tip, almost spoon shaped. The young leaves are quite soft and yellowish to pale green. The veins are thick and prominent. The flowers are bright yellow, with crinkled petals, about 5-7 cm across. The fruits are star-shaped and split open to reveal seeds with a red aril eaten by birds. The fruit itself is red-purplish and quite dramatic. The flower buds are somewhat globose and waxy on the surface. Uses: The plant has been planted as an ornamental, most probably for the brightly coloured flowers and fruits. It is a hedge plant in Sarawak, and the leaves were used in the past by hawkers to wrap food, and "collecting them provides a lucrative trade for small boys" (Sarawak Forest Dept, 1954)

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Tembusu

Scientific Name: Fagraea fragrans Roxb. Common Name: Tembusu Order: Gentianales Family: Loganiaceae -- Tembusu Family Description: A medium-sized tree of quite tall stature and large spread, with elliptic leaves from 5-13 cm long, flowers are small (about 2 cm across), creamy white turning to yellow, and famously fragrant. The berry is orange, round, and about 8 mm across. The bark is dark brown, somewhat roughish and with deeply fissured trunk, its most well known characteristic after the fragrant flowers. The branches tend to bend down low and run parallel to the ground somewhat, and YC Wee joked that this was all the better for pontianaks to sit on and whistle to the interesting looking young men walking below. Uses: It is used for timber and local medicine. A variety formerly known as F. gigantea that grows primarily in primary forests is the ironwood (different from Mesua ferrea the Ceylon Ironwood). Planting this tree can suppress lalang, formerly a very pesky weed in open areas. Its wood is very hard, heavy, wet, and durable. It is planted as a wayside tree sometimes. Its wood is used for building houses and bridges, especially useful for constructing rafters. The leaves and twigs are used in a decoction taken for dysentery, while a decoction of the bark is taken for malaria.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

White-Leafed Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus grossularioides Burm. f. (= F. alba Reinw. ex. Bl.) Common Name: White-leafed Fig Order: Urticales Family: Moraceae -- Fig Family Description: This is either a small tree or a shrub. The leaves are distinctively coloured white on the underside, while the top side is dark green. They have a long stalk, and exhibit a variety of forms, ranging from elliptic to 3 or 5-lobed. Its margin is toothed. The underside is somewhat velvety, whereas the top is covered in fine, short and stiff hairs that give it a 'sticky' texture when one runs a finger across. The figs (fruits/ flowers) are borne along the leaf axils and are about 1.5 cm across and globose, from yellow ripening to maroon or deep red. All parts of the plant exude a milky white sap when cut. Uses: Very young stem tips are eaten in salads, while leaves are fed to horses as a replacement for grass. A leaf decoction is taken for kidney complaints while the latex contains a wax.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Tapioca

Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta L. Common Name: Tapioca Order: Geraniales Family: Euphorbiaceae -- Rubber Family Description: A small plant growing to about 2 m. Usually with a single thin woody stem, covered in leaf-scars at the lower parts from leaves that have fallen off. Leaves are simple but deeply palmately lobed, with pronounced drip-tips at the end of every leaflet. The petioles (leaf stalks) are long, much longer than the leaf itself, and the leaves are spirally arranged around the stem. Petioles are coloured reddish. Fruits are not often seen, the roots are starchy. A close relative M. glaziovii is the Ceara rubber tree, formerly cultivated for its milky latex, used as a rubber substitute, however it was later found unsuitable. M. glaziovii has larger leaves as well as green petiole, in contrast with M. esculenta. Uses: The starchy roots are used for food. It is dried and processed to make flour or cooked and eaten.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Singapore Rhododendron

Scientific Name: Melastoma malabathricum L. Common Name: Singapore Rhododendron, Senduduk (Sendudok) Order: Myrtales Family: Melastomataceae -- Senduduk Family Description: It is a small shrub, that has tiny scales on its branches and petioles. The leaves are narrow and lanceolate, about 5-10 cm long, usually with 3 prominent veins running from the base. The flowers are light pink-purple, with elbowed anthers surrounding the style, and are borne in clustered inflorescences. The fruit is interesting, a sort of pod, usually about 1.5 cm long, which is covered in small bumps and topped with a persistent calyx. The greenish pod splits open halfway and flips over to reveal a fleshy deep purple structure studded with numerous (about a thousand) tiny seeds, and is usually 5-sectioned. Uses: Reafforestation. The astringent fruits and sour leaves are eaten. Fleshy parts are astringent, and have medicinal uses. The leaves and shoot ends are used with mangosteen bark and husks in a decoction for diarrhoea. Shoots are used for puerperal infection. Leaves are used in a local cure-all tonic. Root decoction is used in a post-childbirth medicine (ubat meroyan). Dry powdered leaves are sprinkled on wounds. Roots are used as a toothache mouthwash. Black dye is obtained from fruits. Ashes are used as a mordant for other dyes. Wood is too small to be useful, however. The flowers are used as ornamentation during weddings. Silk worms feed on its foliage, which are also used for dysentery medicine. The fruit is edible, somewhat sweet and tart, leaving a purple stain on one's mouth and clothing. Birds and bats feed on them and disperse the tiny seeds in their droppings, and ants have been observed feeding on the fruits too.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Purple Millettia

Scientific Name: Millettia atropurpurea (Wall.) Benth. Common Name: Purple Millettia Order: Rosales Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae) -- Bean Family Subfamily: Papilionoideae -- Bean Subfamily Description: This is a large tree that can reach heights up to 40 m. It has been planted as a wayside tree by the government. Leaves are simple palmate compound, and dark green. However, being borne quite high up, they are not really noticeable, additionally since the crown is dense and cylindrical. Flowers are purple and asymmetrical, occurring in inflorescences borne at the ends of branches. However, its most noticeable part is the fruit. The fruits are typical legumes, dry oblong pods about 10-15 cm long that split open into two halves revealing a large (~7 cm) oval seed. These (pod and seed) litter the ground near the tree. Uses: Planted wayside tree.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Malay Gale

Scientific Name: Myrica esculenta Buch-Ham. (=M. farquhariana Wall.) Common Name: Malay Gale, Telur Cicak (Telor Chichak) Order: Amentiferae Family: Myricaceae -- Gale Family Description: Small tree about 5-10 m tall, very branched. The leaves are dark green and oblanceolate, from 5-9 cm long. The margin is serrate or entire. The fruit is a small globose drupe, about 2-3 mm across, turning black from red in pretty sprays about 10 long borne along the leaf axis. The leaves are arranged spirally and quite densely too. Young leaves are a tender reddish pink and gradually turn green from the base up. Uses: The timber is small and close-grained but rarely used.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Cicada Tree

Scientific Name: Ploiarium alternifolium Melchior (=Archytaea vahlii Choisy) Common Name: Cicada tree, Riang-Riang Order: Guttiferales Family: Bonnetiaceae or Theaceae -- Tea Family Description: Common small to medium sized tree. Leaves are narrow, ratio of length to breadth about 5:1, length of leaf about 7-10 cm long. Leaves quite densely and spirally arranged along branches, which bear leaf scars of old leaves that have fallen off. Flowers small, borne on the ends of flowering branches, about 1.5-2 cm across, with five contorted petals and numerous stamens. Fruit 2 cm long, dehisces (splits) vertically from bottom to reveal numerous seeds. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Silverback

Scientific Name: Rhodamnia cinerea Jack (=R. trinervia Bl.) Common Name: Silverback, Mempoyan Order: Myrtales Family: Myrtaceae -- Clove Family Description: Small tree. It has oblong leaves about 7-10 cm long, with three prominent veins running from petiole to tip (the origin of the synonym), underside of leaf whitish or silvery, the origin of its common name. Its flowers are small and white and clustered in the leaf axils. The berries are red ripening to black, small, about 0.75 cm across, and contain small seeds dispersed by birds. Uses: Hard wood is used for small objects. Whitish, tough and durable, and charcoal is mde from it. Wood tar is produced from it too, and used to blacken teeth. Leaves and roots are used for a decoction taken after childbirth and for stomach aches. Pounded shoots are used as a poultice for scalds. The fruit is edible and used in a decoction for treating gums. The bark is used as a black dye, as well as for tanning fishing nets.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Leban

Scientific Name: Vitex pinnata L. (=V. pubescens Vahl) Common Name: Leban Order: Tubiflorae Family: Verbenaceae -- Teak Family Description: The most distinguishing features of this small to medium tree are the leaves. The leaves are palmately compound, that is they are compound with the leaflets arranged like the fingers around the palm of one's hand. The one in the middle is usually the largest and prominent while those at the sides are somewhat smaller. Each leaflet is spear shaped. The total length of the leaf varies from about 10-15 cm. Young leaves are a pretty golden-green colour with yellow venation, and soft and tender to the touch. The flowers are purple-bluish, and fruits are globose and black. Uses: For reafforestation. It is a common commercial wood that is heavy and used for agricultural implements, bridges, house posts, and boats. A bark decoction is used for stomach ache and post-childbirth medicine (ubat meroyan). Leaves are used for fever and wound poultices, while bark scrapings are also applied to wounds and as a charm for convulsions. Burkill relates the interesting story of how the bark shavings are burnt so that their smell can be used to mask the smell of burning Datura sp., the latter of which was used by thieves to knock out their victims.

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Plants -- Climbers

Cissus hastata Epipremnum pinnatum cv. aureum Gynocthodes sublanceolata Nepenthes spp. Smilax spp. Tetracera indica Tinospora crispa

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Cissus hastata

Scientific Name: Cissus hastata Miq. (=Vitis hastata Miq.) Common Name: Order: Sapindales Family: Vitaceae Subfamiliy: Vitoideae Description: A common climber that can be seen scrambling around trees close to the staircase leading from building S1. The leaves are light green, about 7-10 cm long, and are lanceolate (spear-shaped) with a pointed apex, but with a cordate (heart-shaped) base. They also possess small teeth at the points where the veins meet the leaf margin. The flowers are borne in bunches, with each bunch only about 1 cm across, they are not very conspicuous. The most easily noticed part of the plant is the reddish or orange tendrils borne opposite the leaves. The stem is somewhat rigid with striations running down it. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Money Plant

Scientific Name: Epipremnum pinnatum cv. aureum Common Name: Money Plant Order: Arales Family: Araceae -- Aroid Family Description: A horticultural climber cultivated for its foliage. This cultivar has variegated leaves, partially green and partially white, although in insufficient light they may be entirely green. Leaves heart-shaped (cordate) and size can vary from 5 cm to 20 cm or more. Flexible stem with adventitious (i.e. borne along above- ground part of stem or leaves) roots borne along it. Does not flower often. Can be seen creeping up some trees together with Tetracera, Smilax, and other natives. Uses: Horticultural climber

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Gynocthodes sublanceolata

Scientific Name: Gynocthodes sublanceolata Miq. Common Name: Order: Rubiales Family: Rubiaceae -- Coffee Family Description: A slender woody climber that has thin and leathery leaves, about 5 cm in length. Typically like the Rubiaceae, the leaves are opposite and in pairs, with the fruits, that are bluish-black globose drupes about 1 cm across, borne at the same nodes in clusters of about 3-5 or more. It climbs on trees and shrubs, twining through the foliage, no tendrils. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Pitcher Plants

Scientific Name: Nepenthes spp. Common Name: Pitcher plants, Periok Kera, Zhu Long Cao Order: Sarraceniales Family: Nepenthaceae -- Pitcher Plant Family Description: Terrestrial herbs or climbers, leaves with prominent central veins often with tendrils emanating from the apex of the leaf. Pitchers, which are jug-like structures, actually modified leaves, borne on the ends of tendrils coming form long leaf blades, various shapes can be observed, e.g. hipped, egglike, urn-like, etc. The opening of the pitcher is topped with a lid, underneath which are found nectar-secreting glands, known as nectarines. These attract insects and other prey which feed on the nectarines then slide down the waxy walls of the pitcher into the pitcher proper. Within is a watery liquid containing digestive enzymes secreted from pit-like glands lining the inner surface of the lower part of the pitcher. These digest insects that fall in, in order to obtain additional nutrients. Pitcher shapes on the same plant differ, being distinguishable into lower pitchers, generally more squat and speckled and with fringed wings, upper pitchers, generally more slender, less speckled and without wings, and intermediate pitchers, which are somewhere in between. In N. ampullaria, upper pitchers are rarely expressed. On the ridge, three species (N. ampullaria, N. gracilis, and N. rafflesiana) and two hybrids (N. x trichocarpa and N. x hookerana) can be found. Flowers are borne on racemes, separated into male and female flowers, generally four-petalled and inconspicuous. Uses: Nepenthes species are popular as ornamentals, adorning many houses and flats. However, one should not collect them from the wild, as that will reduce populations and eventually lead to their demise. They can be purchased from reputable nurseries, where they are cultivated. Cultivated varieties are generally prettier than wild ones, another reason not to pick them from the Ridge. The pitchers themselves are used to make an interesting dish. Rice is stuffed into the washed pitcher, tied up, and cooked. The long twining tendrils have also been used as a sort of twine. (Shivas, 1984) Roots are boiled and made

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

into a poultice for treating stomach ache and dysentery, while a stem decoction is taken for fevers.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Smilax

Scientific Name: Smilax spp. Common Name: Order: Liliflorae Family: Smilaceae Description: This plant is a common climber, with ovatelanceolate leaves, each about 15-20 cm long bearing about 5 prominent veins that run from base to apex. Stem covered in numerous short golden hairs. Tendrils present. Fruits are small berries bearing two stony seeds each, and flowers small on an umbellate inflorescence about 1.5 cm across. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Tetracera indica

Scientific Name: Tetracera indica (Christm. & Panz.) Merr. Common Name: Order: Guttiferales Family: Dilleniaceae -- Dillenia Family Description: It is a twining climber without tendrils that has ovate-lanceolate leaves, with toothed margins and about 5-12 cm long. Flowers are pinkish and numerous. Uses: According to Keng (1990), the stems of this species can supply clear drinking water in times of emergency.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Tinospora crispa

Scientific Name: Tinospora crispa Miers ex Hook. f. & Thorns. Common Name: Order: Ranales Family: Menispermaceae Description: A climbing liane, stem flexible when young turning woody when old, with knobs that get increasingly closely spaced and prominent as the stem ages. Leaves borne alternately along stem, Can be seen climbing up some trees towards the Tropical Marine Science Institute side of the Ridge, however probably a cultivated plant that has escaped. Flowers not conspicuous. Uses: The family Menispermaceae is known for its medicinal properties, Coiled and dried sections of the Tinospora stems can sometimes be found for sale in Chinese medicinal shops. (KS Chua, pers. comm.)

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Plants -- Herbs

By Scientific Name Bromheadia finlaysoniana Clidermia hirta Dicranopteris linearis Lantana camara Lycopodium spp.

By Common Name Clubmoss Lantana Resam Senduduk paksa Seraman

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Seraman

Scientific Name: Bromheadia finlaysoniana (Lindl.) Rchb. f. Common Name: Seraman Order: Orchidales Family: Orchidaceae -- Orchid Family Subfamily: Orchidoideae Description: A terrestrial orchid with monopodial growth. Stem grows up to 1.5 m tall, slender, bearing two rows of leathery leaves spaced widely apart and arranged alternately. Inflorescence about 10 cm long, with "characteristic zigzag" (Tan and Hew, 1993) arrangement of flowers. Flowers about 7 cm across, slender petals white tinged with purple, inside of lip veined purple. Can be found in belukar, however it is often mistaken for 'just another weed' as its flowers do not last very long and are not very showy. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Senduduk Paksa

Scientific Name: Clidermia hirta D. Don. Common Name: Senduduk paksa Order: Mrytales Family: Melastomataceae -- Senduduk Family Description: Common weed, a shrub growing up to 2 m tall. Leaves characteristically pubescent (hairy), as is the stem, giving the plant a soft furry, albeit annoying, feel when touched. Leaves have five prominent veins, and are ovate-lanceolate, about 5-15 cm across. Flowers are white, small (~1 cm across). Fruits green maturing to purple-black, also covered in spinylooking stiff hairs, calyx of flowers persistent. Uses: -

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge

header

Scientific Name: Dicranopteris linearis (Burm. f.) Underw. (=Gleichenia linearis) Common Name: Resam, "Bracken Fern" Division: Pteridophyta -- Ferns and Fern allies Description: A scrambling fern that easily forms nearimpenetrable thickets at the forest edges. The plant is well known as a weedy pest and is difficult to eradicate. Rhizomes (creeping stem) are long and slender, creeping close to the ground and spreading out very rapidly. The fronds are pinnatifid, that is they are lobed deeply so as to appear almost pinnately compound. The plant tends to grow outwards for a while before the growing tip splits into two and the plant branches into two new directions. Repeating this process over and over again, it is easy to see how the Resam establishes itself over such a wide area. It tends to grow in sunny places, though direct sunlight on the rhizomes may kill it. Dicranopteris is not the true Bracken, though often called such. Bracken is Pteridium aquilinium, more common in the temperate countries and poisonous to livestock. Uses: The leaves are applied as a poultice to control fever, while the plant is used in Indonesia to expel intestinal worms.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Lantana

Scientific Name: Lantana camara L. Common Name: Lantana, Bunga tahi ayam Order: Tubiflorae Family: Verbenaceae -- Teak Family Description: A small bushy plant. Leaves 3-5 cm long, lanceolate with toothed margin. Flowers small, about 0.5 cm across, generally borne in a group on an umbellate inflorescence. The flowers give off an unpleasant smell, which some people say reminds them of chicken droppings. However, after having smelt both, this author considers the Lantana to smell somewhat better. Colours of flowers range from white, to orange-yellow, to pink-purple. Spines borne along the stem. One of the top ten worst weeds in the tropics. Uses: A decoction is used for leprosy and scabies in China, while it is used as a stimulant and to expel intestinal worms in Indochina, and is applied to cuts and swellings in South East Asia.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Plants

Clubmoss

Scientific Name: Lycopodium spp. Common Name: Clubmoss Division: Pteridophyta -- Ferns and Fern allies Description: A small herb that is common on muddy ground. The vegetative parts look like small bottle brushes, about 0.75 cm across, and superficially resembles the branchlets of Araucaria columnaris, having numerous closely packed and small (~0.5 cm long) spike-like protrusions arranged along a central axis, and every spike is elbowed upwards at its (the spike's) middle. The texture is waxy and feels springy to the touch. Fertile branches bear a cone-like structure on erect stalks that contain spores. Uses: It is used for burns, dysentery, hepatitis, rheumatism, sore eyes, trauma, beri-beri, skin eruptions, coughs, chest pain, etc.

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A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- References

References

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