Flowering trees around Singapore wow many

Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
The Australian Flame Tree (above) in Jurong West Street 93, and the Handkerchief Tree (Maniltoa browneoides, right) along Yishun Avenue 2, the park connector adjacent to the MRT track.
The Australian Flame Tree (above) in Jurong West Street 93, and the Handkerchief Tree (Maniltoa browneoides, right) along Yishun Avenue 2, the park connector adjacent to the MRT track.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.
Black Pearl tree (Majidea zanguebarica. above) in the Eng Kong private housing estate and Wild Almond tree (Sterculia foetida, right) along Dunearn Road.SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG, LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIME

Flowering trees around Singapore have wowed many with their brilliant and beautiful colours

You could call them showers of blessing. Not only did the rain in recent weeks end a record dry spell here, but it has also led flowering trees around the island to burst into bloom.

Since last month, these trees, found along roads, parks and major expressways, have exploded in a myriad of colours such as white, pink and yellow, drawing shutterbugs like bees to honey.

Some have dubbed this Singapore's sakura season after Japan's famed cherry blossom season, which usually starts around late March.

Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, 47, director of streetscape at the National Parks Board (NParks), calls this recent phenomenon a "spectacular period".

He explains: "The flowering is definitely more intensive in the last couple of weeks. Usually, you won't notice these trees flowering because it's not as striking, but the quantity of flowers that have bloomed has made it so impressive."

Some of the species that have wowed passers-by with their glorious hues include the Yellow Flame Tree, the Golden Penda, the Trumpet Tree and the Pink Mempat.

Shutterbugs have been posting pictures online of the beautiful blossoms they spotted all over Singapore, so much so that NParks has launched a giveaway on its Facebook page to reward 10 pictures.

You can share photographs of flowering plants and trees in an album called Singapore Blooms on Facebook. Post your pictures in the comments section of the album, or Instagram @nparksbuzz using the hashtag #sgblooms.

The competition ends next Thursday. The 10 winners will get a box of premium tea, worth $25, from Singapore Botanic Gardens' Gardens Shop.

So far, the contest has received more than 2,800 pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

Mr Oh attributes the flowering to the inter-monsoon season, which takes place every year between March and May and during September and October. During this season, there are light and changing wind patterns, and the showers which happen mostly in the afternoons can be heavy.

Together with the parched weather earlier this year, many trees here have flowered profusely. In February, Singapore recorded its longest dry spell in at least five years after the country went without rain for 20 days.

Mr Oh says: "The trees were probably building up their reserves during that dry period. For some of the plants, like the Pink Mempat, the prolonged dry spell triggers their flowering and reproduction cycle. Once that was over and the heavy rains came, they started flowering more than usual."

There is no official record on when such mass blossoming has occurred previously, but past newspaper reports showed that Singapore welcomed similar pretty sights in 2006 and 2010.

For those looking to catch the tail-end of this flowering season, which usually lasts for about two months and is expected to end by next month, it is easy to find these trees.

Hundreds of species of trees, palms and shrubs can be found along Singapore's roads, expressways, open spaces, parks and private gardens. Of these, about 30 of these species have more prominent flowering colours.

Mr Oh says these species, which come from the region and also Central America, were chosen for their hardiness and ability to grow in an urban landscape.

Those which need more space to grow, such as the Angsana tree, were planted in suburban areas while smaller trees, such as the Golden Penda, are planted in places where space is a constraint.

"They had to grow fast and last at least 50 to 60 years. They were planted to soften the harsh look of the roads and buildings," he says of the trees, some of which can reach 20m high.

"After you green the city, you want to make the environment more exciting as well with the flowers. It's part of the reason we chose these trees."

Amateur photographer Kaw Jon Boon, who published a photo book on Singapore's wild flowers in 2012, is enjoying the riot of colours on the streets. The 49-year-old graphic designer says: "It's Singapore's own sakura season. It's a good thing for the trees to be flowering... It's a big contrast to the dried, brown leaves previously so it means the plants are growing healthily again."

natashaz@sph.com.sg

Which are your favourite blooms?

E-mail your view, and photographs, if any, to stlife@sph.com.sg


Flowering plants in Singapore

Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus): It is hard to miss a Golden Penda tree, with its dense, bright yellow flowers and extended stamens. Introduced here in 1982, it is a hardy tree which attracts birds and butterflies looking to feed on its nectar.

It can be found in streets such as Whampoa Road, Whampoa Drive, Sims Way, Stamford Road, University Road, Clementi Road near Sunset Way, Loyang Avenue, Zion Road near Great World City and Sungei Simpang Kiri in Sembawang.

The Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea): The hallmark of this tree - it can grow to 25m tall - is its broad and conical crown. It has trumpet-shaped flowers, which give the tree its name. The blossoms range in colour from mauve to white. The fruits are elongated pods which, when split open, release winged seeds. The tree can be found in places such as Robertson Quay and North Buona Vista Road.

Yellow Flame Tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum): Widely grown as an ornamental tree, the Yellow Flame Tree can reach 20m tall. It is a popular tree for roadside planting as it is drought-resistant and its umbrella-shaped crown provides shade. When the tree flowers, the fragrant yellow blossoms cover the entire crown. These flowers are about 3cm in width and have wavy, crinkled petals. Spot them in places such as along Dunearn Road, near the Singapore Chinese Girls' School heading towards Kampong Java.

Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum): It originated in Indo-China, Malaysia and the Philippines. Some call it the Singapore sakura for its cherry-blossom effect during flowering. The flowers are pale pink with a faint fragrance and grow in small clusters on bare twigs. The tree can grow to about 18m tall, but the ones commonly found here are about 10m tall. When ripe, the fruits split open into three parts to release winged seeds. The tree can be found in places such as Mandai Road, West Coast Park, Eco Lake at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Pasir Ris streets 11 and 12 as well as Tampines streets 82 and 83.

Golden Shower (Cassia fistula): This tree is native to India and Sri Lanka, and grows well in the tropics. Its bright yellow flowers are large and fragrant, and grow in drooping clusters that are about 30 to 50cm long. Each flower has five petals. The tree, which can grow to 18m tall, sheds its oval leaflets every eight to 10 months. The species can be found in places such as Clementi Avenue 6, Guillemard Road, Kim Keat Road and near the junction of Peirce and Holland roads.

SOURCES: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD, THE STRAITS TIMES

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