Singapore's own version of sakura: A look at tropical flowering trees

A mother and child among fallen flowers of trumpet trees, which creates Singapore's own version of Japan’s signature sakura flowers, or “cherry blossoms”. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Blossom Beats floral display at Gardens by the Bay has recently attracted large crowds wanting to catch the rare sight of cherry blossoms blooming in sunny Singapore, but did you know that Singapore has its own blooming beauties?

Here are some local flowering trees you may want to look out for blooming in your neighbourhood.

The Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea)

Flowers from Trumpet Trees along Toa Payoh Lorong 1. PHOTO: ST FILE

What: The hallmark of this tall tree - it can grow to up to 25m tall - is its broad, conical and shady crown. It has trumpet-shaped flowers, which give the tree its name. The blossoms range in colour from pink 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.

Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum)

The Pink Mempat, also known as the Cratoxylum Formosum, which can be found along Tampines Expressway. PHOTO: ST FILE

What: 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 seen in places such as in 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 Tree (Cassia fistula)

A flowering Golden Shower (Cassia fistula) tree between Geylang Lorong 28 and 30, along Guillemard Road on April 23, 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

What: 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.

They can be found in places such as Clementi Avenue 6, Guillemard Road, Kim Keat Road and the junction of Peirce Road and Holland Road.

Golden Penda Tree (Xanthostemon chrysanthus)

A close-up view of the Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) flower. PHOTO: ST FILE

What: 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.

Yellow Flame Tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum)

The Yellow Flame Tree in bloom. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

What: Widely grown as an ornamental tree, the Yellow Flame Tree can grow to 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, brilliant yellow blossoms cover the entire crown. These flowers are about 3cm in width and have wavy, crinkled petals that resemble tissue paper.

You can spot them in places such as Dunearn Road, near the Singapore Chinese Girls' School heading towards Kampong Java.

Sources: National Parks Board, The Straits Times

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