Root Awakening

The plant is botanically known as Dracaena braunii. PHOTO: MICHAEL CHUA
The tree is commonly known as the Misi or Sea gutta. Its botanical name is Planchonella obovata. PHOTO: SARAH HO
The fruit of the jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) PHOTO: ROLAND U
The Coral Tree (Erythrina fusca) PHOTO: TAN JUI HSIANG

Kuan Yin Bamboo rarely blooms

I have had this plant for a few years. What is its name and does it flower?

Michael Chua

The plant is botanically known as Dracaena braunii. Locally, it is commonly called Kuan Yin Bamboo. Its other common name is the Lucky Bamboo.

Both names are misleading as this plant is not a bamboo. Various cultivars are available and they differ in the size, shape and colour of their leaves.

It is a common houseplant that grows best when it getsat least four hours of filtered sunlight daily. The Lucky Bamboo is a shy bloomer - it rarelyflowers in Singapore's climate.

Sea gutta blooms' unique scent

These flowering trees at Bedok Reservoir produce an odour reminiscent of cat urine. The smell persists throughout the day and night. What is the name of the plant?

Sarah Ho

The tree is commonly known as the Misi or Sea gutta. Its botanical name is Planchonella obovata.

This species is a native back mangrove tree of Singapore and has rather ornamental leaves that exhibit a bronze underside. It is a tree species that is now widely planted in Singapore's green spaces.

The description of scents or odours emitted by flowers is highly subjective - the flowers of this tree has been reported to have a scent similar to the fragrant pandan.

Jackfruit tree likely under fungus attack

How do I prevent the growing jackfruit from spoiling? They seem to be getting mold, infested or stung by insects. Can I wrap the fruit up? How big must they be before wrapping?

Roland U

The fruit of your jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are likely to have been attacked by a fungus.

You may want to prune your tree to let it get more light as well as improve air circulation, which help to reduce relative humidity in the tree's canopy.

It is important to remove and discard diseased fruit from the tree and those that have fallen to the ground.

In addition, you may want to protect developing fruit with a fungicide, such as mancozeb or a copper-based fungicide, that is available in plant nurseries.

Do follow the label instructions and observe the witholding period, which is the time that needs to elapse before the fruit can be harvested and eaten safely.

Flame Tree infested by Erythrina gall wasps

We have a Flame Tree in our garden. It is probably four or five years old and was planted by the developer. Two years ago, we found that its leaves were diseased, but we did not know the cause or how to treat the tree. As it is adjacent to a lap pool, we do not wish to contaminate the water with chemicals used to treat the tree. What can we do?

Tan Jui Hsiang

The Coral Tree (Erythrina fusca) is likely to have been attacked by Erythrina gall wasps.

The adult wasps lay eggs in the young leaf and stem tissue. The wasp larvae develop in the plant tissue and cause the formation of galls in leaflets and petioles.

New growth is often damaged by the pests and plant health can be compromised.

There is no effective, organic means to deal with this pest. Only the use of systemic pesticides via injection into the tree will offer a long-term solution to the issue.

Do note that this tree species is no longer popular in Singapore. If chemical applications cannot be done, you may want to remove the tree and look into other pest-free tree species to grow in your garden.

• Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore ( He is also an NParks-certified park manager.

• Have a gardening query? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline Root Awakening. Subscribe