Tree species planted in post-1960s Singapore but rarely seen now

An unaffected shelter (above) at Sembawang Park and the damaged shelter that was hit by the falling tree. The uprooted tree was 21m tall, with a 3.1m girth.
An unaffected shelter (above) at Sembawang Park and the damaged shelter that was hit by the falling tree. The uprooted tree was 21m tall, with a 3.1m girth. PHOTOS: RAHIMAH RASHITH, LOGANATHAN RAJU
An unaffected shelter at Sembawang Park and the damaged shelter (above) that was hit by the falling tree. The uprooted tree was 21m tall, with a 3.1m girth.
An unaffected shelter at Sembawang Park and the damaged shelter (above) that was hit by the falling tree. The uprooted tree was 21m tall, with a 3.1m girth. PHOTOS: RAHIMAH RASHITH, LOGANATHAN RAJU

The tree that crashed on the shelter at Sembawang Park belongs to the Erythrophleum suaveolens species, said the National Parks Board.

According to a former senior arborist at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Mr Lahiru Wijedasa, the species originated in Africa and was planted extensively in post-1960s Singapore as part of local greening efforts. It is rarely seen now and not commonly found in local nurseries.

The uprooted tree was 21m tall, and had a 3.1m girth. It was likely to have had a significantly wide root structure.

Mr Wijedasa said that there were several reasons why a tree could collapse, but only invasive tests can determine if a seemingly healthy tree is suffering from a fungal infection, or if there is damage to the roots. Strong winds, or a combination of factors, can also bring it down.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2018, with the headline 'Tree species planted in post-1960s Singapore but rarely seen now'. Print Edition | Subscribe