The mempat tree

on 11th April 2006

There is nothing like a mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum) with its crown covered with new reddish pink growth and pale pink flowers to brighten a road. The tree fronting my house was leafless for about a week before it turned into an attractive tree just before Christmas last year. These trees do not shed their leaves together as each has its own schedule. A tree first sheds its leaves and remains leafless for days before the colourful new leaves slowly emerge together with the flowers. I have always admired the tree at this very stage. As the leaves expand in size they turn green and at the same time the flowers develop into fruits.

There are a few semi-parasitic plants growing on its branches. These round-fruited mistletoes (Macrosolen cochinch)nensis) are easily seen when the tree is leafless but with the leaves growing back, they can still be discerned if you look hard enough.

The crown of the tree is a hive of activities, the various fauna being attracted by the fruits of the mistletoe plants and the nectar-filled flowers of mempat.

The flowers of mempat as well as those of the mistletoes attract bees, butterflies and of course birds. Various sunbirds find the flowers of irresistible because of the nectar they exude. These include Crimson (Aethopyga siparaja), Olive-backed (Nectarinia jugularis) and Brown-throated (Anthreptes malacensis) Sunbirds. The Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) visit for the mistletoe fruits, the mempat nectar as well as the flowers.

The tree is also popular with Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) that visit for the insects that are attracted to the flowers. These birds also eat the mempat flowers, probably for the nectar they contain. They are also attracted to the tree because of the mistletoe fruits.

Input and images by YC Wee.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories
Archives

Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
462
400
Visitors Today
50407658
Total
Visitors

Clustrmaps (since 2016)